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Clinton regains lead over Sanders at Nevada State Democratic Party convention

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton regained her delegate lead over Bernie Sanders at the Nevada State Democratic Party’s convention Saturday.

Clinton has 20 delegates and Sanders has 15 delegates who will go to the Democratic National Convention. The state convention finalized the breakdowns and selects delegates who will go to the national event in Philadelphia in July.

Thousands packed into a ballroom at Paris Las Vegas on Saturday for the all-day event. Clinton had 1,695 delegates seated at the convention. Sanders had 1,662 delegates.

The state convention came at a time when the Sanders-backing faction of the party has clashed with the rest of the party. Supporters of the Vermont senator had made an 11th-hour attempt to sue the state party, telling a Clark County judge on Friday that the deadlines were unfairly changed in a way that kept people from running for party leadership posts. A judge dismissed the case, ruling in favor of the Nevada State Democratic Party.

But tensions remained high during the early hours of the convention, as Sanders supporters roared their displeasure, and party leaders briefly struggled to keep order.

Clinton’s initial lead of 20-15 in the delegate battle came in February, when she won the Nevada Democratic presidential caucus.

In all, the state Democratic Party is sending 43 delegates to the national convention. The remaining eight are superdelegates, party leaders and elected officials who aren’t pledged to a candidate. There also are three alternates.

In introductory remarks, state party Chairwoman Roberta Lange said it’s important to look at making Nevada’s system in the future more accessible. Options she listed included a shift to a state-funded primary system, a statement that attendeees cheered loudly. She also said one option could be keeping the caucus, but changing the mechanics of how it’s run.

At the county conventions in April, Sanders supporters were able to whittle Clinton’s lead temporarily to 18 -17, a figure buoyed by Sanders supporters showing up in force at the county conventions.

The crowd of Sanders supporters booed early in the day to voice their displeasure.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., speaking on behalf of Clinton, attracted some boos as she spoke. She told the crowd that Sanders is a friend.

“We need civility in the Democratic Party,” Boxer said.

At one point, she said, “Keep on booing and boo yourselves out of the election.”

“Hillary Clinton is going to go toe to toe with Donald Trump, and all the booing in the world does not change the fact that our country is at stake and Hillary Clinton has fought for us year after year,” she said.

Former Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner, speaking for Sanders, told the candidate’s supporters that the “best way” to fight disappointment is to see the convention through and not leave. If Sanders were here, she said, his message would be “Remain calm, but remain committed.”

“Senator Bernie Sanders is the only candidate that can beat Mr. Donald Trump in the general election,” she said, drawing cheers from the Sanders contingent.

On the Republican side, Trump is the only candidate who hasn’t dropped out of the race. On the Democratic side, Sanders hasn’t bowed out of the race, though Democratic calls for him to do so have grown amid fears his campaign is doing long-term damage to Clinton’s run.

Democratic leaders — Sanders and Clinton supporters alike — have called for unity, saying it’s necessary to defeat Trump and win in November.

Concerns remained. A Sanders supporter complained on the stage that 64 people weren’t allowed to participate.

A state Democratic party representative said that figure is misleading. Six of those were allowed in. Some had incomplete or unidentifiable information, including names and addresses, and hadn’t responded to requests to correct it. Others hadn’t registered as Democrats by the deadline.

Eight Clinton supporters didn’t qualify for similar reasons.

Contact Ben Botkin at bbotkin@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2904. Follow him on Twitter: @BenBotkin1

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