ALBANY — Hillary Clinton gave a private pep talk to Democratic state legislators in her adopted state Monday, urging them to help her win big in the New York primary — and possibly lock up the party’s nomination, numerous officials said afterward.
Following a string of primary losses, Clinton is hoping to stem the momentum of Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and is counting on New York to do that. She gave a short address in which she congratulated Democrats for recent legislation and reminded them of issues she worked on as a New York senator from 2001 to 2009.
And she had a request: Muster your districts for her for the April 19 presidential primary and “take her over the top.”
“She asked everyone in the room to help turn the corner on the race right here in New York,” Assemb. Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) said. “So, we all have a homework assignment.”
“She wants to mobilize us in our districts in an attempt to energize the electorate,” said Assemb. Phil Ramos (D-Brentwood). He predicted the residents of his Suffolk County-based district “will be very energized ... because they know a lot is at stake.”
Clinton leads Sanders in the Democratic delegate count, 1,712 to 1,011, including superdelegates. But the Vermont senator has won the last five primaries/caucuses and was running slightly ahead of her in Wisconsin, the site of Tuesday’s primary. So Clinton is making a push in New York, the next stop in the White House chase, where 291 delegates will be at stake — second most to California.
More than 100 Democratic lawmakers and staff walked downhill one block from the State Capitol after the afternoon legislative session to take photos and hear the candidate.
Not all rank-and-file Democrats attended. Assemb. Phil Steck (D-Loudonville), a Sanders supporter, sat alone in the chamber at his desk after his colleagues filed out. “I don’t think ... Clinton has the grass-roots support Bernie has,” Steck said.
Earlier Monday, Clinton joined Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in Manhattan at a rally to celebrate an increase in the minimum wage.
“There are people who don’t believe the minimum wage should be raised,” Clinton told a rally of union workers at the Javits Convention Center.
“In fact, Donald Trump has said wages are too high,” Clinton said, referring to the Republican presidential front-runner.
A chorus of boos erupted from the audience of about 1,000 and someone shouted that Trump “should be fired” — echoing the line used by the reality show host when he fired contestants on his television show, “The Apprentice.”
“He’s fired. That’s funny,” Clinton said.
Before the rally, Cuomo signed legislation gradually raising the hourly minimum wage downstate to $15 and upstate to $12.50.
A protester in the rear of the room was removed before Clinton spoke when the protester held up a sign supporting Sanders.
With William Murphy