Sanders supporters deliver 85,000 signatures to Albany

Bernie Sanders supporters have had plenty to get excited about lately -- including delivery of 85,00
Rod Johnson of Lake Luzerne holds a sign supporting U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is competing against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party presidential nomination.
Rod Johnson of Lake Luzerne holds a sign supporting U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is competing against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party presidential nomination.

Fresh from their candidate’s strong showing in Iowa, and with the prospect of a win in New Hampshire very likely on Tuesday, Bernie Sanders’ volunteers can hardly contain their excitement.

Thursday in downtown Albany, Sanders’ supporters had even more to cheer about when his presidential campaign reportedly delivered 85,000 signatures to the state Board of Elections at 40 N. Pearl St., officially placing Sanders’ name into the April 19 New York Democratic primary. All the state requires from a candidate is to collect 5,000 names.

“We have 85,000 signatures, and that tells you that a lot of people out there are committed to him,” said Ballston Spa’s Joe Seeman, one of many volunteers who showed up in Albany on Thursday to mark the event. “He’s a candidate who is really talking about turning this country around and taking it back from the billionaire class. They own the entire Republican Party, and they own some of the Democratic Party and are trying to get more. But they don’t own Bernie. He’s not for sale.”

Each congressional district is required to get 500 signatures to contribute to the state total, and according to Sanders’ officials Thursday, upstate New York did more than its share. The 19th Congressional District, made up of the Hudson Valley and the Catskills and creeping into Schoharie County, accounted for close to 4,000 signatures, while the 20th (the Capital District) collected more than 2,200 names and the 21st (Saratoga and the Adirondack region) had approximately 2,700.

“We were responsible for those three districts and we far exceeded our goals,” said Schenectady’s Josephine Moore, a volunteer coordinator with the Sanders campaign. “It’s amazing what our volunteers did.”

Seeman is one of a handful of supporters from the Capital Region who have spent some time recently in New Hampshire where, according to a poll released Wednesday by Franklin Pierce University and the Boston Herald, Sanders holds a 44 percent to 37 percent edge over Hillary Clinton among likely Democratic primary voters.

“I’ve been to New Hampshire three times, doing a lot of work on the phones and knocking on doors,” said Seeman, who works in Albany as a computer software developer. “I was previously involved with a campaign to draft Elizabeth Warren for president. I always thought Bernie was fantastic, but I never thought he would get this far. So I didn’t get involved with Bernie until this past summer, and we have a variety of people — people who have never been involved in a campaign before, that are excited about Bernie. There’s one lady out there today who said she hasn’t been involved like this since a guy named Kennedy was running for president.”

State Board of Elections officials hadn’t counted the signatures yet, but spokesman John Conklin said that Sanders’ total appears to have exceeded that of Clinton’s, which was received on Monday. Conklin did have figures for both campaigns in terms of volumes and pages. The campaign for the former secretary of state and first lady produced 18 volumes and 3,840 pages, according to Conklin, while Thursday’s total for Sanders was 76 volumes and 6,171 pages.

“We probably won’t count all the signatures unless there’s a problem, but all you need is 5,000 and they both exceeded that number.”

Seeman said the Sanders volunteers were trying to collect as many signatures as they could.

He said “85,000 is the number the campaign came up with, and yes we did want to make a statement. We were responsible for about 15 districts, so there were about 15 boxes that we brought in. The others were being collected down in New York City. So, this was an opportunity to knock on your neighbor’s door and talk to them about your candidate. This is a first step in building a movement.”

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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