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Washingtonians Hound Superdelegate Who Supports Clinton After Constituents Favored Sanders

Posted on Mar 28, 2016

    Rep. Rick Larsen of Washington state’s 2nd Congressional District. (Online Guide to House Members and Senators)

Bernie Sanders crushed Hillary Clinton in Washington’s caucuses Saturday, yet state Rep. Rick Larsen, a superdelegate, is ready to vote for her anyway. Sanders backers flooded Larsen’s Facebook account, demanding that he honor the will of his constituents.

“Superdelegates,” explained The Guardian’s Trevor Timm in February, are roughly 700 members of Congress, governors, mayors and other party elites “who aren’t elected by anyone during the primary process and are free to vote any way they want at the [nominating] convention.”

Washington voters overwhelmingly favored Sanders over Clinton, 72 percent to 27 percent, in Saturday’s Democratic caucus. The Vermont senator carried every county in the state—and voters in Whatcom County, where Larsen keeps an office, chose Sanders by 81 percent.

Roughly one day after the results came in, the following graphic appeared on the Facebook walls of social media users across the state:

Sanders’ supporters answered the call in droves. Beneath Larsen’s posts wishing constituents Happy Easter and congratulating the University of Washington’s Huskies basketball team on making it into the Final Four, comments like these appeared by the thousands:

Some commenters struck a strident tone, threatening to vote Larsen out of office if he refuses to switch his vote.

One user started a Facebook group—“Rick Larsen- Represent Those you Represent”—aimed at organizing voters to place sustained pressure on Larsen.

A petition urging other Washington state Democratic superdelegates to support the candidate chosen by the electorate garnered 25,800 signatures by mid-Monday. Those officials, all of whom publicly backed Hillary Clinton, include Gov. Jay Inslee, U.S. Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, and U.S. Reps. Jim McDermott, Suzan DelBene,  Adam Smith, Denny Heck and Derek Kilmer.

Washington Democratic Party Chairman Jaxon Ravens and other officials said they’d remain neutral until after the caucuses.

Will Larsen and his cohort listen? Elected officials fear disgruntled voters. If Sanders’ supporters get Larsen to change his vote, it will stand as another in a long line of this election cycle’s repudiations of the common view that people power is a dead force in American politics. And voters elsewhere may be emboldened to take similar action.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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