Bernie Sanders‘ mini-winning streak continued with his victory in Oregon on Tuesday, but the day was not without its downside.
Nevada’s Democratic Party filed a formal complaint on Tuesday accusing the Democratic hopeful of inciting “actual violence” among his supporters during a chaotic state convention on Saturday.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid had a 10-minute talk with Sanders about the incident and called for the Democratic socialist senator to address the fracas, describing it as a “test of leadership,” The Washington Post reports.
But Reid was angered and “surprised” when Sanders responded by issuing a defiant statement in which he dismissed the accusations as “nonsense” and condemned the way in which Nevada and other states have handled their delegate process.
“If the Democratic Party is to be successful in November, it is imperative that all state parties treat our campaign supporters with fairness and the respect that they have earned,” Sanders said. “I am happy to say that has been the case at state conventions in Maine, Alaska, Colorado and Hawaii where good discussions were held and democratic decisions were reached. Unfortunately, that was not the case at the Nevada convention. At that convention, the Democratic leadership used its power to prevent a fair and transparent process from taking place.”
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump: Flashback Moments, 1979 – 1992
Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz told CNN on Tuesday that Sanders’ response was “anything but acceptable.”
“I was comfortable that one conversation was enough,” Wasserman Schultz said of Sanders’ discussion with Reid. “Unfortunately, the senator’s response was anything but acceptable. It certainly did not condemn the supporters for the violence and added more fuel to the fire.”
The controversy comes after Sanders supporters, angry at the idea that he was being treated unfairly in the delegate allocation process, reportedly engaged in violent behavior and made death threats to party leaders at the Nevada convention, Mother Jones reports.
California Sen. Barbara Boxer said she felt “threatened” by outbursts and threats from Sanders supporters at the event.
“I feared for my safety and I had a lot of security around me,” Boxer, a Clinton supporter, said on CNN’s . “I’ve never had anything like this happen.”
“He should get things under control,” she also told CNN. “We’re in a race that is very critical. We have to be united. He knows that. I have in fact, called him a couple times, left a couple messages. I’m hopeful he can get control of this.”
Sanders’ failure to rein in his supporters has deepened Democrats’ fears that the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in July could also turn violent.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois told CNN that “of course” he’s worried about Philadelphia.
“We saw what happened at the Trump rallies, which broke into violence, people punching one another. I don’t want to see that happen at the Democratic Party,” Durbin said. “I call on Bernie to say to his supporters: be fervent, be committed but be sensible. Don’t engage in any violence.”
Meanwhile, Sanders won Tuesday night’s primary in Oregon by 8 points, while rival Hillary Clinton was declared the “unofficial winner” in Kentucky.
Much to the outrage of some Sanders supporters, Clinton claimed an early victory in the Bluegrass State, before all of precincts had been counted and she was leading the senator by less than 2,000 votes. Sanders backers took to Twitter to accuse Clinton of “stealing” the senator’s votes.
Sanders’ spokesman said the senator is considering seeking a recount in the Kentucky contest, which Clinton won by half a percentage point.
On Tuesday night, Sanders blamed his loss on the fact that Kentucky was a closed primary, calling on the Democratic Party to “open the doors” and “let the people in.”