Bernie Sanders tops poll as nomination race comes to Dublin

US citizens here cast votes as part of ‘global presidential primary’ on Super Tuesday


If Bernie Sanders really wants to get elected, he should run in Ireland.

That was the clear message from the steady flow of American citizens, most of them young, who streamed into a Dublin hotel on Tuesday evening to cast their votes in the Democrats Abroad US presidential election primary.

With few exceptions, they plumped for the Vermont senator who has energised young Americans back home almost as much as he has caused people who watch Fox News to start frothing at the mouth at the prospect of a “socialist” in the White House.

‘Honest candidate’

“Who would I vote for?” says Massachusetts native Lydia DiPerrio having placed her choice into the ballot box. “Bernie Sanders. I think he’s the most honest candidate.”

But as for who she thinks will get the nomination and win the election come November: “I think it’ll be Hillary,” she says.

“I really, really hope so. I’ve been watching a few of the Trump rallies and the stupidity is growing, which is a little bit terrifying.”

It was the same for most who arrived at the Arlington Hotel on Bachelors Walk in Dublin. Prof Michael Brennan of Trinity College Dublin, late of Claremorris in Mayo via Boston University, said Sanders had forced on to the agenda issues that mattered to people.

“The election is not only very entertaining so far,” he said, “but also very good in that it’s brought to the fore many issues. The fact that you have Trump on one side and Sanders on the other raising issues of concern to ordinary people is good.”

Democrats Abroad has about 2,000 members in Ireland, out of an estimated 50,000 US citizens living here. The organisation’s “global presidential primary” runs until March 8th.

Votes from each country will be collated on May 14th at a convention in Berlin where 17 delegate votes will be pledged for delivery at the party’s presidential convention in Philadelphia in July.

Cleveland Ohio-born financial adviser TJ Mulloy (44), organiser of the Dublin vote, believes that Sanders appeals to Americans who have experienced something of European-style social policy.

“Sanders’ policies are closer to what Americans abroad liver under – healthcare, retirement and basic social welfare benefits,” he said. In the States, “we have sick leave without pay. Maternity leave? Doesn’t exist.”

Larry Donnelly, Boston-born Galway resident NUI law lecturer and political commentator, agrees. He says that while there is “long-standing goodwill” towards Hillary Clinton in Ireland”, Bernie Sanders “has excited people and she doesn’t deserve a free ride to the nomination”.

And so it proved: polling closed at 8pm and shortly after, Mulloy announced that Sanders won with 98 votes, against 37 votes for Clinton. On Saturday, registered Democratic Party supporters in the west can vote between 1pm and 5pm at Monroe’s Tavern on Dominick Street Upper, Galway.