After watching Republicans struggle with internal divisions on national television for the better part of a week, Democrats will now face their own test of unity as they begin their convention on Monday and prepare to nominate Hillary Clinton for president.

After watching Republicans struggle with internal divisions on national television, Democrats will now face their own test of unity as they begin their convention Monday and prepare to nominate Hillary Clinton for president.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, Clinton's top rival during the protracted Democratic primary fight, endorsed her campaign this month. But some of his supporters have not warmed to a politician they see as slow to embrace the liberal social and economic principles the Vermont senator elevated during his campaign.


Many Sanders delegates also are angered by Clinton's decision to select Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine as her running mate because they view him as more centrist than others who were under consideration.

What form dissent might take at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia is not clear. Groups are planning to protest, but similar plans for Cleveland didn't amount to much. Some say Sanders supporters could attempt a fight on the floor over free-trade deals despised by unions.

Sanders is planning to meet with his delegates as the convention opens Monday. The self-described democratic socialist surprised many by earning 1,846 pledged delegates in primaries and caucuses; Clinton won 2,205.

"Selections have consequences. Secretary Clinton must know that her choice of Kaine can only inflame rather than soothe her relations with the huge constituency of Bernie supporters," said Norman Solomon, a Sanders delegate from California who helped to organize a group called the Bernie Delegates Network. Solomon predicted Kaine's selection could lead to a "very contentious national convention."

But what will that look like?

"It's yet to be determined," Solomon said, adding that his group does not support or oppose the idea of Sanders delegates engaging in floor fights. "The fact is, nobody knows."

The uncertainty gives the Democratic National Convention an unusual degree of drama. Clinton hopes to use the event to rally the party behind her candidacy and avoid the kind of public squabbles that repeatedly drew Republican nominee Donald Trump off-message in Cleveland.

The GOP gathering was beset by division — much of it a holdover from a crowded and divisive primary. The most obvious manifestation came when Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas declined to endorse Trump during his prime-time address Wednesday — a stunning departure from what is ordinarily a carefully scripted event.

Other signs of discord included the absence of notable figures, from the two living Republican ex-presidents, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, to rising newcomers such as Gov. Larry Hogan.

Hogan is one of two Republican governors in the nation who has said he won't support Trump — "I don't like him," he explained last week at the 40th annual J. Millard Tawes Crab and Clam Bake in Crisfield.

Democratic leaders have repeatedly said they are confident the party will avoid the kind of conflict that came up in Cleveland.

For starters, virtually the entire universe of elected Democratic officials — the establishment — has backed Clinton's campaign from the beginning. Clinton leads Sanders in superdelegates, the elected officials and party leaders who are not bound by the results of their states' primaries, 602-48, according to the Associated Press count.

And Sanders has indicated he has no intention of replicating Cruz's performance.

"Sanders has given his full-throated endorsement to Clinton," said Rep. Steny Hoyer of Southern Maryland, the No. 2 House Democrat and a longtime Clinton ally. "We're, I think, a very united party. Coming out of the convention, that will be the result."


Polls indicate a vast majority of Sanders backers will ultimately fall in line behind Clinton — which explains why her campaign wasn't worried about selecting Kaine. Earlier this month, the Pew Research Center found that as many as 85 percent of Sanders supporters say they will vote for Clinton in November.

"He is a progressive who likes to get things done," Clinton said as she introduced Kaine in Florida on Saturday, repeatedly using the word "progressive."

"So when I say he's a progressive who likes to get things done," she said a few minutes later, "I mean it."

Clinton has made some effort to bridge the divide. Her campaign has allowed Sanders supporters to negotiate a platform that Sanders has called the party's most progressive ever.

But progressives say they remain deeply disappointed that the document doesn't advocate for a single-payer health care system or a $15 minimum wage indexed to inflation. They are upset that it does not specifically oppose a free-trade agreement negotiated between the Obama administration and other Pacific Rim nations.

Clinton, as a member of the Obama administration, supported the trade deal. She came out against it only after launching her campaign.

Clinton, who won both the popular vote and the most delegates in the primary, is likely to give Sanders a prominent speaking role in Philadelphia.

Former candidate and Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley will also have an opportunity to speak. O'Malley's presidential campaign never caught fire, and he dropped out after the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses. But he branded himself as a progressive and a voice for the next-generation Democrats.

Sanders delegates from Maryland offered a mixed response to Clinton's candidacy and the convention. Colin Byrd, a 23-year-old delegate from Prince George's County, has lobbied for Clinton to do more to engage young people in her campaign. He also believes she should commit to appointing Maryland Rep. Donna F. Edwards to a spot in her administration.

Edwards, of Prince George's County, lost the Democratic nomination for Maryland's open Senate seat to Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Montgomery County in the April primary — meaning she will leave office in January.

Byrd said he will watch Clinton's moves over the next few days carefully.

"Let me put it this way: I will be voting for Hillary Clinton regardless," he said. "But this could be the difference in the extent to which I and others get engaged."

Byrd raises an important point: Assuming no displays of disunity materialize in Philadelphia, Clinton will likely want to avoid alienating the young, enthusiastic constituents who propelled Sanders' campaign. If the race with Trump becomes close, she will need those voters to knock on doors, make phone calls and raise money.

Democrats allocate their delegates to the convention on a proportional basis, meaning that Sanders supporters in Maryland will go to the convention despite the fact that Clinton won the state with more than 62 percent of the vote. The state delegation will be made up of 60 delegates pledged for Clinton and 35 pledged for Sanders.

Del. Jimmy Tarlau, a Sanders delegate, said he thinks some Sanders supporters who only recently joined the Democratic Party will consider voting for Green Party candidate Jill Stein — just as civil rights leader Cornel West announced he would do.

But Tarlau, a freshman lawmaker, predicted most will join Clinton. "What makes this election scarier for me is you could have a Republican president and a Republican Congress," the Prince George's County Democrat said. "Trump would basically have carte blanche. It's a very scary prospect."


Even so, Tarlau has his reservations about Clinton. He thinks Sanders delegates need to continue to pressure her to be more progressive.

"People want change in this country," he said. "People don't want to go backwards. Income inequality has to be addressed. Only Sanders was addressing this issue. I'm not that comfortable that Secretary Clinton will address this issue."

All the internal discontent in the world could evaporate if progressives feel Trump is gaining ground. (For Republicans, the specter of a Clinton administration is likely to be a similarly galvanizing force.)

Former Montgomery County Council member Valerie Ervin, a Sanders delegate, said she believes Cleveland energized Sanders backers to commit to Clinton.

"Most progressives I know, even if they haven't fallen in love with Hillary Clinton, there is a great sense of determination to make sure Donald Trump does not become the next president of the United States," she said.

Julian Ivey, at 20 one of the youngest members of Maryland's delegation to Philadelphia, agreed.

"There are many Sanders delegates who still have a bad taste in their mouth when they speak about voting for the secretary of state," he said. "However, when we talk about voting against Donald Trump — that's when all of us agree."

Del. Jill Carter of Baltimore, another Sanders delegate, said she is no Clinton enthusiast, but the prospect of a Trump presidency has left her with no other option.

"We are left with no choice," she said. "Of course, we will support Hillary."