PHILADELPHIA -- Still reeling from the chaos surrounding last weekend’s Nevada Democratic State Convention, party officials considered new guidelines Friday that would bar interruptions of any kind at upcoming state conventions.
Last week’s unrest was on everyone’s mind at a meeting here of State Democratic Party chairmen, who rallied around Roberta Lange, the Nevada chair who has received death threats from supporters of Bernie Sanders.
“Any one of us could be Roberta one day,” Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said. “But none of us are going to stand for it.”
In a speech dedicated almost entirely to projecting confidence that the party will ultimately unify, Wasserman Schultz drew on her experience as a die-hard Hillary Clinton supporter in 2008.
“To say that I was not very well-liked by then-Sen. Obama's supporters would be an understatement. Despised might be more accurate,” Wasserman Schultz said. “I share that story with you because I want to remind everyone that we have been down this road before.”
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She mocked the “media’s love affair with notions of party discord” and said she was “confident that we will channel the passion and energy from our primary into unity behind a common purpose.”
Last week’s convention in Las Vegas devolved into chaos. Sanders supporters loudly objected to the procedure, claiming their supporters were being disenfranchised. It stretched on for hours as officials lost control, before security finally shut down the event. Unrest continued the next day when the Democratic Party's headquarters were vandalized by graffiti and Lange received threats.
The incident has led Democrats to worry about unrest at the Democratic National Convention, which will take place here in July. Some Sanders supporters have already promised protests.
As state party chairs, they were also worried about the dozen or so state conventions that will occur before the national event. Some expressed particular concern about Wyoming’s convention, scheduled for next week.
“The experience of the Nevada Convention demands that action be taken,” said Ray Buckley, the New Hampshire party chairman, who also serves as president of the Association of State Democratic Party Chairs.
He said every state party was “stunned and saddened” by what happened in Nevada, but that state was not alone in seeing “bad behavior” at party events.
Buckley called on the Sanders campaign, along with the Clinton’s campaign and the DNC, to agree to eight new guidelines to ensure peace at upcoming state conventions.
The guidelines called for cost sharing for extra security, more meetings to hammer out issues ahead of time and for senior officials with both campaigns to be on the floor of the convention to help reign in supporters if need be.
He also called on all parties to agree that conventions should proceed “without interruption or interference of any manner,” including “auditory or visual distractions.”
Jaxon Ravens, the chairman of the Washington State Party, added that party officials should take extra safety and security precautions at state party offices.
Several party chairs stood to publicly thank Lange. “It’s not about Nevada any more, it’s about all of us,” she replied.
Lange told MSNBC that she is still receiving threats from Sanders supporters and fears for her safety. She said she has yet to hear from the Sanders campaign.
Clinton campaign manage Robby Mook briefly addressed the group Friday and will speak again Saturday. Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver was scheduled to appear, but canceled, several sources said. Sanders' political director addressed the group Thursday.