PHILADELPHIA — If it’s a sign of what will happen tonight when the Democratic National Convention gavels to order, then the out-going chair of the national party is in for a rude greeting.
U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia, was the keynote speaker at the morning breakfast of the Georgia delegation.
After lamenting the erosion of democracy in countries around the world, Johnson moved to the controversy of the day: the release of hacked emails showing Democratic National Committee officials criticizing and potentially trying to undermine Bernie Sanders’ campaign for the nomination.
The scandal has already caused DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who wrote one of the offending e-mails, to announce her resignation, effective at the end of the week. She vowed to still gavel the convention to order tonight and to speak to delegates at some point. Sanders supporters have said that’s a mistake and that she will be booed off the stage if she shows her face.
Her own Florida delegation gave her a brutal taste of that this morning when she spoke to that state’s breakfast. A number of Sanders supporters booed her and held signs that said “Thanks for the ‘help’ Debbie!”
Back at the Georgia breakfast, as Johnson blamed the release on Russian hackers, a voice from the other side of the room shouted over him: “No sir,” Sanders delegate Rick Day shouted. “They wrote those e-mails.”
Had Day, who hails from Ellijay, not interrupted, he would have heard Johnson also say: “It was wrong what was in those emails.”
“It was unfortunate,” Johnson continued. “We must take appropriated action that each and ever Democrat can rest assured they will be treated fairly by our party.”
Other Sanders supporters, however, tried to bring the room back together.
“I challenge us to listen,” Rep. LaDawn Jones, D-Atlanta, a Sanders delegate, said. “That’s what we’re here to to do. We are here to learn something. We’re here to shape and challenge our party.
“Show respect. … It is going to be the respect that we have that is going to make sure that Donald Trump does not make it to the White House.”
Still, if Day’s response and that of the Florida delegation are small indications of what’s to come, the Wells Fargo Arena will be a divided place when the convention gavels to order at 4 p.m. If Wasserman Schultz is the one to do it, be prepared for a nationally televised spectacle.