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What are Sanders supporters to do? Keep backing their candidate

WBFO file photo/Eileen Elibol

On the eve of Tuesday's presidential primaries, before she had officially clinched enough delegates to secure the Democratic nomination, national media were declaring Hillary Clinton the presumptive winner of that party's nod. But Bernie Sanders supporters, including a Buffalo campaign organizer, say as long as he's still in the race, they're still behind him.

An Associated Press survey of "superdelegates" on Monday indicated that they will throw their support behind the former First Lady, Senator from New York and Secretary of State. Those commitments would give Clinton enough votes to secure her party's nomination, even before the polls opened in  six states including California, where 548 delegates are up for grabs.

Brian Nowak, lead organizer for the Buffalo for Bernie Sanders campaign, told WBFO Tuesday that as long as the Democratic challenger remains in the race, he'll back the candidate. He admits, however, that some may be considering other options. 

"I'm not going to go ahead and speak for every single Bernie Sanders supporter in Buffalo. What I will say is there's a diversity of opinion over what we should do," Nowak said. 

The options include voting for Sanders in November as a write-in candidate, choosing to vote for neither Clinton nor Republican candidate Donald Trump, or possibly throwing support behind Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson.

When asked about the media's declaration of Clinton as the Democratic nominee prior to Tuesday's primaries, and whether Sanders supporters found that insulting, Nowak suggested it's been that kind of playing field as far back as the Iowa Caucus in February.

"The frustration of Sanders supporters isn't just about our candidate not doing so well," he said. "It's about repeated impediments and challenges to running a campaign that would be... let's call it fair and where a finger's not on the scale, so to speak." 

WBFO asked Nowak if there's concern that a prolonged Sanders campaign creates the risk of leaving the Democratic Party fractured and increasing Trump's chances in November. To him, the focus is still on securing Sanders' place on the November ballot.

"We've had 40 years of relatively stagnant wages, We've had a prison system that has put more people behind bars than any other country on the planet. We have growing wealth inequality and all these other issues and they've happened under Democratic and Republican presidents," Nowak said. "Right now, we're focused on helping Bernie Sanders win the Democratic Party nomination and bringing those issues to the forefront."

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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