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Bernie Won But Does It Mean Anything?


The state Democratic delegate convention last weekend was apparently some kind of hot mess. And when it ended, Bernie Sanders emerged the winner over Hillary Clinton.

But does that mean anything at this stage of the presidential nomination game? 

Jon Ralston, columnist for the Reno Gazette Journal and host of "Ralston Live" on VegasPBS, said it does mean something -- that Sanders' campaign got more people to the Clark County Convention than Hillary Clinton's campaign.

But there's a long way to go before the Democratic National Convention later this summer.

This weekend, Clark County Republicans hold their convention. Last weekend, Washoe County Republicans held their convention and adopted a platform that includes defining marriage as only between a man and woman.


On the county convention:

Sebelius: It was from my understanding flooded by Bernie Sanders supporters whose enthusiasm knows few bounds and who were intent on getting in there and trying to do what they could to reverse the results of the caucus that took place back in February, and to see if they could gain a delegate or two.

It was long ordeal… They are very chaotic. They can go on for hours. There can be very attenuated conversations about the rules. Basically, it’s a system that rewards those who turn out the most people willing to stay the longest. And that’s what we saw happening.

What does ‘winner’ of that convention mean?

Ralston: It means a couple of things. I means that Hillary Clinton campaign used its superior organization to hold off the Sanders momentum on Feb. 20… but was asleep at the switch at least partially when the county conventions came around.

Bernie Sanders theoretically did flip a couple of delegates and could keep that, changing it from 20 to 15 delegate lead here for Clinton to 18 to 17. He could theoretically do more at the state convention. Again it depends on who shows up to the state convention.

This just illuminates why there should be a primary, why the caucus system is an anachronism. It is true that Sanders dominated the day.

Does Sanders getting the delegates at the state convention mean he’ll get them at the national convention?

Ralston: It can. Most of them national convention delegates are bound on the first ballot. Again, it’s not going to switch enough to really make a huge difference unless Sanders momentum, having won seven of the last eight states, including Wisconsin, is able to change some of the super delegates’ minds. Because if he can’t do that, then Clinton is likely to get to a majority of delegates by the time the convention vote occurs and it will do him no good. His only chance now is to get the super delegates to change their minds. He’s making the pitch that, ‘listen, some of the states that you are from I won with 70, 80 percent of the vote,’ which is true and some of those elected leaders who are now pledged to Hillary Clinton might be a little bit nervous that their careers could be in jeopardy if they don’t change their minds.

Nevada Democrats are sending out emails about their colorful parrots. They are two people dressed in parrot costumes chasing Senate candidate Joe Heck around. Why are they doing this?

Sebelius: They doing it to get attention and it was unsuccessful until just this very moment Joe! The democrats love birds. Their famous chicken that went around to illustrate chickens for checkups this one is designed to illustrate that Joe Heck is ostensible a parrot of the Republican leadership, a parrot of Donald Trump, a parrot of whomever they want to associate him with on a given day. It’s not always entirely accurate but the democratic message is not graded for accuracy. It’s graded for how well it persuades people and that’s what they’re trying to do with these parrots.

Is the parrot trick legitimate and could it work?

Ralston: Is it legitimate? It’s a stunt to try to get media attention and yes some media will give it attention. Sometimes it’s clever. Sometimes it’s not so clever. They are trying to tie [Sharron] Angle and Heck together, because they want Heck to either spend money or otherwise pay attention to Sharron Angle when their candidate, Catherine Cortez-Masto, is coasting to a primary victory. I think it’s at the margins at most.  

The Culinary Union announced that workers at the Trump hotel voted to unionize. Does that have an impact on Trump’s presidential campaign?

Ralston: It’s easy for them to get some media attention on that both here and elsewhere because Trump is a candidate and he talks about how he gets great deals and he’s a great negotiator and yet he clearly lost on this one. So it’s great PR for the Culinary, which is spending this cycle trying to reassert itself as a political force, getting involved in that congressional primary, endorsing Ruben Kihuen. They’ll be involved in everything from the presidential race down to the legislative races and they’re trying to make a statement, saying, ‘Don’t forget about us. We really are the powerful force in Democratic politics.’ 


Steve Sebelius, Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist, host of "Politics Now";  Jon Ralston, Reno Gazette-Journal collumnist, host of "Ralston Live"

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Joe Schoenmann joined Nevada Public Radio in 2014. He works with a talented team of producers at State of Nevada who explore the casino industry, sports, politics, public health and everything in between.