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IL Sanders Delegate Hopes for Party Unity at DNC

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke to a crowd of Illinois supporters during a campaign stop in March. (iStockphoto)
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke to a crowd of Illinois supporters during a campaign stop in March. (iStockphoto)
July 27, 2016

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Some Illinois delegates called for unity at the Democratic National Convention, even after leaked emails allegedly revealed an effort by party insiders to sway voters away from Sen. Bernie Sanders.

The controversy over the emails resulted in Democratic Party chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz stepping down. Illinois delegates largely agreed that this was the right move, but some said the focus should now be on defeating Republican Donald Trump in November.

Robert Peters, a Sanders delegate from Chicago, said that even though his candidate didn't win the nomination, the senator's ideas have had a positive effect on presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

"What Bernie's really done is, after hopefully Clinton gets elected, we can hold her accountable,” Peters said. “We can combat this right-wing narrative and we can really shape the Democratic Party; and have an actual long-term vision that includes candidate development and good issue work."

Illinois has 196 delegates at the DNC in Philadelphia, with 113 backing Clinton and 83 pledged to Sanders. Clinton beat Sanders in the Illinois primary by just two percentage points.

According to Peters, the Sanders' campaign forced Clinton to take up issues she might have otherwise avoided or downplayed. Among these issues, she said, is Clinton's opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership - a commercial trade agreement disliked by most Democrats. Peters thinks it should include more worker protections.

"We make sure that labor, no matter where they are - whether they're in China at Walmart or they're in Chicago at a 7-Eleven - they have good rights,” she said, "a living wage, benefits, unionization."

Sanders tried unsuccessfully to get opposition to the TPP into the official Democratic Party platform. However, a top Clinton adviser told Politico that if elected, Secretary Clinton would instead focus on new trade initiatives that were, "clear job creators."

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - IL