Divided Arizona delegation casts votes as Clinton seals nomination

The Arizona sign stands above the Arizona delegation at the Democratic National Convention. (Photo by Lily Altavena/Cronkite News)

PHILADELPHIA – A divided Arizona delegation cast 51 of its 85 convention votes for Hillary Clinton as she wrapped up the Democratic presidential nomination Tuesday after a surprisingly tough, and sometimes bitter, battle with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

The battle was still bitter for some Sanders supporters, who traded chants with Clinton delegates on the floor of the Democratic National Convention during the roll call of the states. Some protesters even walked out of the convention arena to stage sit-ins inside the convention security perimeter shortly after the nomination was made final.

But Arizona delegates, including some who are Sanders supporters, were looking forward Tuesday.

“I’m more encouraged than upset, because I thought the way the campaigns came together on the platform to move new rules forward will have a much longer and meaningful impact,” said Adam Kenzie, a pledged Sanders delegate from Arizona who said he will now stand strong behind Clinton as the nominee.

The crowds roared as the nomination speeches and roll call votes were announced on the convention floor here Tuesday evening. But the mood was still raucous, with many of the nominating speeches ending with chants of “Bernie” and an opposing chorus of “Hillary,” each trying to drown the other voice out.

The Wells Fargo Center where the Democratic National Convention is held. (Photo by Lily Altavena/Cronkite News)

The Wells Fargo Center where the Democratic National Convention is held. (Photo by Lily Altavena/Cronkite News)

When Arizona’s turn came, Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix, announced that the state had 85 total votes, 34 of which went to Sanders. He then deferred to Jerry Emmett, the 102-year-old honorary chairwoman of the Arizona Democratic delegation, who awarded the state’s remaining 51 votes to “the next president of the United States, Hillary Clinton.”

At that point, most of the Arizona delegation members stood up, cheering and holding signs that said, ‘”Love Trumps Hate.”

Clinton, who needed 2,382 votes to win the nomination, ended the night with 2,838 to Sanders’ 1,843.

Joe Longoria, a Clinton delegate, said he got involved with the Democratic Party six years ago in heavily Republican Mohave County. He said this is the first time Mohave County has sent four delegates to the Democratic National Convention.

“I’m very excited to be here, it’s something I’ve wanted to do since 1960,” Longoria said. “I remember very vividly watching John F. Kennedy on TV at 6 years old. I’ve always had a dream of being at a convention.”

He believes that Democrats should stand together now without hostility or bitterness – but said he can empathize with the Sanders delegates who watched their candidate lose.

“I was a Hillary supporter in 2008. I can feel for Bernie Sanders supporters because I was them,” Longoria said. “But I do remember when Sen. Obama got the nomination, then quickly as Democrats we moved over to supporting him and followed our leader.

“Now I’m proud of being part of this history in nominating the first woman as president,” he said of Clinton’s historic nomination.

Kenzie and others remained hopeful that Clinton would take a more progressive approach if she becomes the next president.

He believes Clinton’s position on marijuana is reasonable, for example, and thinks Clinton is following in Sanders’ footsteps to take a more aggressive approach to combat climate change and transition to clean energy.

Carol Fowler, a super delegate from South Carolina, said he was pleased that the two candidates “are on the same team now.”

“They’re both working to defeat Donald Trump and put Hillary Clinton in the White House and that’s exactly how it’s supposed to work,” Fowler said. “We’ve had a hard-fought primary, but it’s over. Now we should move on for what’s best for the country.”