Sanders Allies Sue Democrats to Oust Cuomo

     MANHATTAN (CN) — Dozens of delegates for Sen. Bernie Sanders went to court to unseat Gov. Andrew Cuomo as chair for the party’s New York delegation at this month’s Democratic convention in Philadelphia.
     Cuomo endorsed the party’s presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton early in the primary season, and for many Sanders supporters, the Empire State’s governor has embodied the brand of centrist politics that their movement opposed.
     Trying to dispel that image, Cuomo signed an executive order raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour shortly before the primary.
     On the campaign trail, Sanders said that grassroots activists and workers deserved credit for that accomplishment, and he mocked the governor’s maneuver during a speech at Harlem’s iconic Apollo Theater.
     “Trust me, it wasn’t because your governor had a great idea,” Sanders said of the “Fight for 15” movement’s victory.
     Clinton ultimately won New York’s April 19th primary with 58 percent of the vote, and the lion’s share of the state’s super-delegates.
     The 42 percent of the pledged delegates that Sanders won, however, made clear late last month that they will not be ignored.
     On June 21, the New York State Democratic Committee’s secretary Mike Reich asked for nominations for the party’s chair, and he stopped taking names after Cuomo’s was mentioned.
     Nomiki Konst, a radio host and at-large Sanders delegate, and 22 other allies of the Vermont senator claim that Reich “bulldozed” through their motions seeking to force Cuomo to face a challenge for delegation chair.
     In an 8-page petition, Konst and the delegates describe the meeting that Politico depicted at the time as a “revolt” of Sanders backers.
     The Sanders delegates say that they negotiated an agreement before the meeting that they would be allowed to vote “in favor” or “against” a Cuomo nomination if he were the only candidate for the chair.
     “This was being done, largely, to avoid having someone run against the governor, while allowing a measure of democratic input/protest,” the petition states.
     Interrupting what appeared to be a Cuomo coronation, Sanders delegate Jay Bellanca claims that he stood up and said: “I have a nomination,” only to be ignored.
     “Instead, Reich announced that he was going to take a voice vote on a motion he made to have Cuomo declared elected after asserting, mistakenly, that no further nominations were being made,” the petition states.
     The Sanders delegates claim that the room erupted at that point into shouts of “point of order,” but Reich plowed ahead to a voice vote in a 500-person room filled with delegates and observers alike.
     “In taking the voice vote, Attorney Reich did not ascertain whether those who were voting, in a room full of non-delegates, were delegates with credentials or observers,” the petition states. “He then ignored a point of order made at a microphone, at the front of the room, by delegate Nomiki Konst which addressed the fact that delegate Jay Bellanca was attempting to nominate someone to run against Governor Cuomo, cutting off her microphone. Reich then just bulldozed ahead with other delegation votes, none of which involved any controversy.”
     The Sanders delegates want a Manhattan Supreme Court judge to void Cuomo’s election to the chair, and to meet again for a new vote before the convention begins on the morning of July 25.
     The offices of the New York State Democratic Committee and Gov. Cuomo did not immediately respond to emailed requests for comment.

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