Now that Hillary Clinton has secured the Democratic presidential nomination, some Bernie Sanders supporters are wrestling with how to vote in the fall.
Kirk Atwood, a Bernie Sanders delegate, is the mayor of Kittanning, Pennsylvania, and a teacher at a tech-centered high school.
The convention speeches are helping him warm to Hillary Clinton, but he’s not yet gung-ho.
“It’s tough to make that switch in a night, or two nights or even four nights,” he said.
In Armstrong County where Atwood lives, Sanders edged out Clinton in the April primary vote. Atwood said Sanders’ stark opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal was crucial.
Clinton also said she opposes it, but Atwood worries she’ll change her mind, which is why he’s still resisting trading in his Bernie buttons for Hillary ones.
“And that’s one of the things that makes it hard for me to put on that button right now,” he said. “But, you know, that’s not the only issue that matters to Armstrong County, but it might be our biggest.”
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has strongly denounced international trade deals.
John Fetterman, the mayor of Braddock and former Democratic U.S. Senate candidate, is worried that will give Trump too big of a boost in Pennsylvania.
“There is some fertile ground out there based on that message,” said Fetterman, who was a vocal Sanders supporter during the primary.
Fetterman’s wife is a Democratic delegate. He was invited to Philadelphia by the Clinton campaign.
“In my part of the state, Western Pennsylvania, Trump’s counting on his message to resonate,” he said. “And I want to make sure we do everything we can to promote party unity. And to sit on the sidelines or to vote for a third party, it’s a lot like wearing a ‘Make America Great’ hat, you know?”
Nancy Mills, the chair of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee, said she believes Clinton will outperform President Obama’s vote tallies in the region, but admits Trump’s message is having an impact.
“I think that it’s resonating with a lot of Reagan Democrats who are still registered Democrat but always vote Republican. Time will tell. We’ll be looking at the numbers very closely,” she said. “I think that we have a lot of work to do.”
An aggregate of 16 polls currently has Clinton winning the Keystone state by 9 points, but some show the race to be closer than that.