PHILADELPHIA — A coalition of Democratic National Convention delegates who are supportive of Bernie Sanders said on Monday there is growing support among their ranks to contest the nomination of Tim Kaine as vice president.
At a news conference here, Norman Soloman, a national coordinator of the Bernie Delegates Network, a group representing 1,250 Sanders delegates attending the convention, said an informal poll of the group’s members found a majority believe Kaine, a U.S. senator from the swing state of Virginia, was “not acceptable” as a choice.
Of 300 Sanders delegates who responded to the poll, 251 rejected Kaine, Soloman said.
“There is very strong overwhelming support for a challenge to Tim Kaine’s nomination,” Soloman said. He did not name any possible nominees the delegates would put forward if they went forward with their protest.
The network represents two-thirds of the roughly 1,900 delegates who pledged their support to Sanders during the drawn-out primary battle with presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
Solomon said Sanders’ delegates “understand that it is essential to defeat Donald Trump” in the general election, but in traditionally Democratic states, many would likely cast protest votes for third-party candidates to signal their disappointment at the Democratic Party’s leadership.
“In swing states hold your nose and vote for Hillary Clinton, in safe states it doesn’t matter,” Solomon said when asked about the consequences of casting votes against Clinton in a tight race against the Republican presidential nominee.
He added: “It’s possible to be upset with Hillary Clinton . . . and still move forward and recognize that it’s essential to defeat Donald Trump.”
Hours before the start of the convention, network leaders said Sanders delegates planned on speaking out on the convention floor against outgoing Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz when she takes the stage tonight.
Wasserman Schultz, a Florida congresswoman, resigned from the post Monday amid mounting criticism over leaked emails that showed the committee gave preferential treatment to the Clinton campaign.
“We don’t want this to be just a hollow show,” said Karen Bernal, a delegate from Sacramento, California.
While Sanders has endorsed Clinton, and Democratic Party leaders have called for the convention to serve as a platform to unite both camps, Bernal said Sanders’ supporters are independent-minded and “have never been a group to take marching orders.”