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'Let's hang together': Washington Democrats hit sweltering Philly

Myra Gamburg, a Clinton alternate delegate, was on the Washington delegation's boat cruise in Philadelphia on Sunday. Gamburg, 84, said she's excited about what Clinton's nomination means for women.
KUOW Photo/Kate Walters
Myra Gamburg, a Clinton alternate delegate, was on the Washington delegation's boat cruise in Philadelphia on Sunday. Gamburg, 84, said she's excited about what Clinton's nomination means for women.

The heat in Philadelphia hits you like a brick wall whenever you leave the comfort of air conditioning — when you exit the airport, when you leave your hotel room, when you step out of a cab. It's thick, it's oppressive and it makes you sweat.

Personally, after the tepid summer we've had in Seattle, I found it delightful. But I get the feeling that I'm in the minority.

KUOW’s David Hyde and I head to the dock to meet up with the Washington state delegation and take a spin along the Delaware River on the Spirit of Philadelphia — a modern, sleek-looking boat with four levels, three bars, two dance floors and some pretty great music.

Everyone looks like they're trying not to melt. People jostle up the little gangway onto the boat, seeking the sanctuary of air conditioning once more.

On board, the vibe is friendly but a little hesitant — you get the feeling that people recognize one another but they don't know each other all that well.

Small groups start to fill up at tables as people get a drink and work up the courage to strike up a conversation with someone they don't know.

If there is awkwardness, it doesn't last long. Being confined to a moving vessel with several bars seems to do the trick, and before long people are cheering as Washington party chair Jaxon Ravens and Gov. Jay Inslee give short speeches about the necessity of unity.

"Let's hang together," says Inslee.

[asset-images[{"caption": "Valerie Rongey is a member of the Washington Democrats' executive board. She said it's time for Bernie Sanders delegates to back Hillary Clinton. ", "fid": "128163", "style": "placed_wide", "uri": "public://201607/20160725-Valerie-Rongey_0.jpg", "attribution": "Credit KUOW Photo/Kate Walters"}]]After the recent scandal with leaked emails from the top officials of the DNC, and the newly announced resignation of national party chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, there seems to be a sense of urgency to smooth any anger that Sanders supporters might be feeling.

There's a lot of talk about the delegation being a family and the party uniting to defeat Trump, who is referred to by one delegate as “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.” That tickled the Harry Potter fan in me.

After the speeches end, the party kicks up a notch, people even start dancing. A dance circle forms at one point and delegates rotate in and out of the middle to raucous shouts of approval. A small woman with white hair seems to delight the crowd as she waggles in the middle of the group.

Dancing #DemsInPhilly at the WA delegate welcome event — Kate Walters (@KateOCSeattle) July 25, 2016

But just as things are really getting going, we make it back to the dock. And delegates are reminded by the DJ that they have a long week ahead, "so we don't want to get too crazy." And it's time to return to the heat and the humidity. Jaxon Ravens admits to me that he's missing Seattle's climate and its rain right about now.

So that's things from the party side. Despite all the frivolities, David and I did manage to have some serious conversations with people. And what we heard is that it's going to take a lot for Clinton to win the support of Washington's Sanders delegates — which is nearly three-quarters of our delegation.

They don't like that the Democratic National Committee seems to have had its thumb on the scale during the primary. They don't particularly like the choice of moderate Tim Kaine for VP, and they don't seem entirely done with their revolution, either.

At the same time, they don't seem to want to blow up the convention and turn it into a spectacle. Sanders is speaking at the convention Monday night and the question remains, will he convince his supporters that it's time to get behind Clinton?

Year started with KUOW: 2015