CHARLOTTE, N.C. — When the otherwise carefully scripted Democratic National Convention briefly broke down in a platform dispute Wednesday, Washington delegates were part of the fray.
The kerfuffle arose when the convention chairman, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, asked for a voice vote for an amendment to the Democratic platform. The changes would have added in language backing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and explicitly mentioning “God.”
Villaraigosa appeared surprised when a majority of the delegates shouted “No!” in a voice vote on the amendment. He brought it up a second time, and then a third, with the shouts of “Yes” and “No” growing louder each time. On the third try, Villaraigosa ruled the amendment had received the required two-thirds voice vote, even though the outcome sounded far from clear to those in the room.
The flap was immediately seized on by Republicans, who said the Democratic dissent showed a disdain for Israel, and for faith.
Supporters had wanted to put the language in to avoid any such controversy. Democrats had come under attack for not including the Jerusalem statement, which had been in previous platforms.
But some Washington delegates said they voted against the amendment because it was raised with little notice.
“We can’t deal with the complexities of foreign policy on a whim of a vote in a national convention,” said Chris Porter, a delegate from Seattle. He added that it was wrong to add mention of “God” in the platform because it “pushes against the separation of church and state.”
Lisa Plymate, another Seattle delegate, said she was surprised and angry when Democratic convention leaders tried to jam the amendment through. Many of the Washington delegates loudly shouted “no,” she said, unconvinced that the change ever actually received the required vote.
“We were loud. We may have been the loudest delegation,” she said. “Democrats are not people who just lie back and take things. We evaluate what is going on.”
Plymate added that she is Jewish, but “it hasn’t been worked out yet what we’re going to do with Israel.”
As for the “God” reference, Winona Hollis-Hauge, a Shoreline delegate, said “I’m a Christian myself, but I also respect other people’s beliefs. I respect other people’s religions.”
State Democratic Party Chairman Dwight Pelz said he was not in the convention hall during the vote and had no comment on the flap.