Kansas Democrats witness Clinton nomination as ‘extraordinary experience’

A scene from the 2016 Democratic National Convention
A scene from the 2016 Democratic National Convention Wichita

Kansas Democratic Party Chair Lee Kinch saw history being made eight years ago when Barack Obama became the first African-American nominee for president. He witnessed history again Thursday night when Hillary Clinton walked onstage as the first female nominee of a major party.

Kinch, who cast the official vote during roll call with Committeewoman Melody McCray-Miller on Tuesday night, said the moment was incredible.

“It was an extraordinary experience,” he said. “And extraordinary honor to be able to make that announcement for our candidate.”

Clinton, who addressed a packed Wells Fargo Center, thanked Sen. Bernie Sanders and his supporters who “gave their hearts and souls to him.”

“What a remarkable week it’s been,” Clinton said.

Clinton’s speech hit points of unity, compromise and working to “do the most good” for as many people.

“We have to decide to work together so we can rise together,” she said.

The convention’s goal of unity has rubbed off on some delegates more than others. A few Sanders delegates from Kansas did not watch Clinton’s speech and did not want to talk about why.

Chris Pumpelly of Wichita said as a Sanders delegate, he will vote for Clinton because it’s what Sanders has asked for. He said the “Bernie-or-bust” mentality is enabling Donald Trump.

“I believe in the political revolution that he’s put in action,” he said. “I’m going to double down on this party that just presented the most progressive platform in history, and we’re going to elect Hillary Clinton because frankly, the alternative will be devastating.”

Pumpelly said the convention has left him feeling “bursting with pride for my country.” He added he’s more hopeful for the future than ever.

Clinton delegate Damien Gilbert of Wichita said he’s tired after the four-day convention, but it was surreal to be in the convention hall celebrating the historic nomination of the first female presidential nominee.

“It’s definitely a memory I’ll never forget, and I was thinking a lot about my mom,” Gilbert said. His mother was a huge Clinton supporter before she died a few years ago.

Clinton’s speech clarified her character, said Justin Kim of Derby, explaining he got to see the side of her he’s heard about from others.

“Tonight just reaffirmed my love for her,” he said.

He added that after four long days, he’s ready to go home and fired up about the future.

It’s hard to be a Democrat in Kansas, Pumpelly said, but this week has been reassuring.

“Republican, Democrat, Bernie, Hillary,” he said, “I think there’s a great prospect of bringing the country together.”