CHEYENNE, Wyo. – A supporter of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders has submitted a challenge to how pledged Wyoming delegates were split 7-7 despite the Vermont senator reportedly winning the popular vote.
Richard Kusaba, a land surveyor from Kemmerer in southwest Wyoming, said the state party's decision to accept the challenge and forward it to the Democratic National Committee defused animosity that had been building ahead of the convention.
"After Nevada, I think the party realized that it needs Bernie Sanders' supporters in order to win the presidency," Kusaba said.
In Nevada earlier this month, Sanders' supporters threw chairs and shouted down convention speakers. Later, the state party chairwoman said she received death threats.
Clinton won the Nevada caucuses in February, but Sanders backers had hoped to pick up extra delegates by packing county and state party gatherings.
Sanders responded to the Nevada turmoil by dismissing characterizations of his supporters as prone to violence and pressing party leaders to recognize that "millions of Americans are outraged at establishment politics."
Mary Hales, a member of the Democratic National Committee representing Wyoming and a national convention delegate from Casper, has said she received nasty calls and letters from out-of-state Sanders supporters upset with her earlier pledge to support Clinton. Hales said there were no specific threats to do her harm, but she felt threatened by the calls and letters. She did not complain to the police.
On Saturday, the atmosphere in a Cheyenne ballroom was cordial and orderly. Top national advisers to Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders worked together as some 300 Democrats' opened the state convention.
At a recent party meeting in Philadelphia, Wyoming officials asked Sanders' deputy campaign manager, Rich Pelletier, to attend, Pelletier told The Associated Press. He said his goal in Cheyenne was to ensure a smooth process and that all delegates could express any concerns they have.
"It's democratic party with a small D as well as a big D," he said.
Marlon Marshall, who is Clinton's director of state campaigns and political engagement, also said he wanted a smooth process. "At the end of the day, we all have the same goals in mind," Marshall said.
Wyoming will split the delegates equally but also has four superdelegates that are technically not bound and can vote any way they want at the national convention. They had earlier pledged to support Clinton.
Wyoming party chairwoman Ana Cuprill said they agreed to accept Kusaba's challenge in order to seek clarity at the national level. Cuprill, a super delegate, declined to name who she will support at the convention but said she will support whomever has the most pledged delegates.
Kusaba has 15 days to draft his challenge and gather enough signatures from registered voters.