Arizona delegates hope for unity, progressive change after DNC email leak

PHILADELPHIA – Sanders delegate Mikel Weisser was not surprised that leaked emails showed the Democratic National Committee apparently scheming to support Sanders’ rival, Hillary Clinton, in the Democratic primary that culminates with Clinton’s nomination here this week.

Weisser said he’s too cynical for that.

But Weisser also said he hoped the revelation could work to bring the party together and push a more progressive agenda in the long run.

The So-Hi delegate was like many Arizona delegates, supporters of Clinton and Sanders, who were trying to take a longer-term view of the email leaks that led to the resignation of the DNC chairwoman this weekend.

“The scandal is tied to the fact that there was division and it was kept secret,” Weisser said. “The result of the things being leaked, it will be good. This will help party unity instead of hurt it.”

Arizona delegate Felecia Rotellini, a longtime supporter of Clinton’s, said that while the former secretary of state still has her vote, the episode points out the need for Democratic Party leaders to be fair to all candidates.

“The party needs to look at what happened and look at the discourse between leaders,” Rotellini said. “We need to be fair and impartial as party leaders.”

Clinton delegate Felecia Rotellini says Democratic National Committee leaders need to work harder at being fair to all candidates in primary elections. (Photo by Joey Carrera/Cronkite News)

Clinton delegate Felecia Rotellini says Democratic National Committee leaders need to work harder at being fair to all candidates in primary elections. (Photo by Joey Carrera/Cronkite News)

The scandal started Friday when nearly 20,000 emails between Democratic Party leaders, including DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, were released by WikiLeaks. In the emails, party leaders discussed everything from the possible effect of Sanders’ atheism on his campaign to plans to push a story in the press about his campaign being a “mess.”

Wasserman Schultz announced Sunday that she will be stepping down as chairwoman after this week’s convention. The FBI also said it will open an investigation into the source of the leak.

But some Arizonans still felt that the incident was blown out of proportion, much like the outcry over Clinton’s use of a private email server during her time as secretary of state.

“Everybody is so obsessed with the fact that Hillary may have had leaks in her files,” said Arizona Clinton delegate Roman Ulman. “It’s a double standard – a woman always gets judged harshly.”

Other Clinton delegates agreed, saying that the Democratic Party’s email security breach and apparent favoritism for Clinton’s campaign should not reflect badly on her ability to serve as president.

“This has nothing to do with Hillary’s leadership or competence,” Rotellini said.

Sanders delegate Michael Gordy said that while he will eventually vote for Hilary Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee needs to focus on being truthful. (Photo by Joey Carrera/Cronkite News)

Sanders delegate Michael Gordy said that while he will eventually vote for Hilary Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee needs to focus on being truthful. (Photo by Joey Carrera/Cronkite News)

While delegates largely placed the blame at the feet of Wasserman Schultz and other party leaders, some said that the incident still reflects badly on Clinton’s campaign.

Michael Gordy, a Sanders delegate from Arizona, said that Clinton’s history of dishonesty is the biggest issue for him and that the best thing she could do for her campaign is to tell the truth.

“I can tell people stories or I can tell them what happened,” Gordy said. “She keeps trying to nuance things to be favorable to her.”

Despite concerns about the emails, delegates agreed that good could come for the party from the leak and Wasserman Schultz’s resignation – especially for the Sanders-led progressive wing.

“You don’t have to stay all upset, she’s (Wasserman Schultz) stepping down,” Weisser said. “I think it’s going to push the party more to the progressive side.”