“I expected many people to be really upset,” executive director for the Washoe Country Democratic Party Amy Curtis Webber said. “But a lot of people are excited to rally behind the party’s nominee.”
Throughout the race, support for both Sens. Obama and Hillary Clinton have been strong.
Obama’s statewide support has increased since Nevada’s Jan. 19 caucuses when Clinton narrowly defeated Obama. Last month's Democratic State Convention awarded Obama 14 delegates and Clinton 11.
“People were really vested in our candidates,” Webber said. “Some people are really upset. But in terms of people who come to our monthly meeting who are our base, they feel as though the party is going to come together to support our nominee."
“What can I say? I am so happy and so relieved," Sparks resident and Obama volunteer Trish Swain said. “My reaction is great joy great gratitude and great relief.”
Rachel Miller, president of the University of Nevada Reno’s Young Democrats and a Sparks resident, said there is an overwhelming sense of release throughout the party.
“People saw how divisive this race was,” Miller said. “I think people are just happy there is a nominee. I know I am.”
Obama’s presumptive nomination is also stirring local discussion about his vice presidential candidate pick.
“I’m hearing mixed opinions,” Webber said when asked if there is local support to make Clinton the vice presidential candidate. “I hear people say I don’t think the country is ready to have an African American and a woman on the ballot. Some people are saying they don’t know if that’s practical, and Obama should choose a more traditional candidate.”
Swain, for instance, hopes it’s anyone but Clinton.
“I hope and pray it’s not selfishly egotistical Hillary Clinton,” Swain said. “I don’t think she has a conscience. She’ll do anything."
According to Miller, however, putting Clinton on the ticket may be the best way to ensure Obama wins the election come November.
“I think this primary was so divisive that the best way to gain all of her support would to make her the vice presidential nominee,” Miller said. “This way he could sweep the election and all the Hillary supporters can unite behind the cause.”
However, no matter who the vice presidential candidate is, following Clinton’s official concession there will be a regrouping period, Webb said. Then the party will be ready to rally behind Obama.
Uniting the party in Nevada is particularly crucial for Democrats.
“Next to Iowa, Nevada is one of the most targeted key battleground states,” Webber said. “In the 2004 elections, if this county went Democratic then (John) Kerry would have been the president.”
Since March 2006 Republicans have lost about half of their 16,000 voter registration advantage over the Democrats in Washoe County.
“It’s an exciting time for Democrats in Washoe County,” Webb said.