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Madame President? Wide Range of Feelings Among Women Delegates

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Ava Kennedy, a Bernie Sanders delegate from the North Bay, isn't ready to stop feeling the Bern quite yet.

As the Democratic Party prepares to make history this week by nominating Hillary Clinton for president, female delegates from California gathered at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Philadelphia expressed feelings ranging from elation to "meh."

"As a 64-year-old woman, it's very exciting," said Clinton delegate Debra Broner from the Central Coast. "For strong, smart women, powerful women, to be voted into powerful positions, it’s very exciting. Just like with Barack Obama, I thought this day would never come."

Likewise, farm labor leader Dolores Huerta said she can hardly believe she'll finally see a woman nominated for president by the Democratic Party.

"Just thinking about it brings me to tears, and we’re not even there yet," Huerta said. "I expect there will be lots of tears of joy. It makes me think of what Coretta Scott King said: 'We will never have peace in the world until women take power.' "

The 86-year-old Huerta says she's been to every Democratic National Convention but one since 1968. She's hopeful Clinton will win in November, but she doesn't underestimate her opponent.

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"Trump is scary," she said. "He's very bizarre and unstable. But we can’t take anything for granted."

Asked if she was disappointed Clinton didn't choose a Latino running mate, such as HUD Secretary Julian Castro, Huerta said no, that Sen. Tim Kaine added needed national security experience.

"Plus he speaks Spanish, which some of the Latino candidates did not, and that's helpful," Huerta added.

The curtain goes up on this convention as anger from the Bernie Sanders campaign was inflamed this week by the unauthorized release of thousands of emails from the Democratic National Committee. Sanders and his supporters have long claimed that DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and her operation placed a thumb on the scale on behalf of Hillary Clinton. The emails confirmed that.

On Sunday afternoon, first word got out that Wasserman Schultz was out as convention chair -- then hours later that she would resign as DNC chair after the convention.

Feminist attorney and Hillary Clinton delegate Gloria Allred calls Clinton's nomination the "culmination of a dream."
Feminist attorney and Hillary Clinton delegate Gloria Allred calls Clinton's nomination the 'culmination of a dream.' (Scott Shafer/KQED)

Asked how she was feeling about the prospect of Clinton being nominated, Sanders delegate Ava Kennedy said, "You’re not asking me at a good time." Referring to the DNC revelations, she added, "I feel we really wanted Bernie to run, and we don’t feel it was a fair process.  We’re pissed and disappointed."

Kennedy, a delegate from the North Bay congressional district represented by Mike Thompson, wants Clinton to "personally reach out" to the Sanders delegates, something she feels has not yet happened.

As for the importance of electing a female president, Kennedy said, "It’s not really about the gender. I feel Bernie Sanders' politics expressed more feminine values than Hillary Clinton's."

Among the best-known California delegates for Clinton is Los Angeles civil rights attorney and feminist Gloria Allred. The Philadelphia native says she's thrilled to be nominating the first woman presidential candidate in her hometown.

"This is the culmination of my dream," Allred said. "The City of Brotherly Love is now the City of Sisterly Love. We've always said a woman’s place is in the house -- the White House. And this is the time to make that a reality."

But first, it would seem there are some bridges to be built toward Bernie Sanders delegates not quite ready to let go of their own dream.

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