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Will Minn. Democrats who feel the Bern fall in line at convention?

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Philadelphia prepares to host DNC.
The Democratic National Convention at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia formally kicks off on Monday.
Drew Angerer | Getty Images

Ashley Fairbanks says she's been a "political nerd" since age 13 and she's excited this week to experience her first national political convention. But she admits she'll have a hard time backing the Democratic Party's nominee.

  Like most of the Minnesota delegates coming to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, the 29-year-old Minneapolis artist and community organizer is pledged to vote for Bernie Sanders, not Hillary Clinton, on the first ballot.

  "I think I feel more comfortable identifying as a 'never Trump' than a 'pro Hillary,' Fairbanks said. "I will support her getting elected if she's the candidate, which she will be, right? But I just have a hard time identifying as a strong Hillary Clinton supporter."     

Fairbanks' view highlights the challenges Clinton faces in the coming days. The Minnesota convention delegation reflects the results of precinct caucuses back in March, when Sanders scored a decisive win over Clinton. 

Party leaders are now stressing the need for unity, and this week will test whether Clinton can excite Sanders' supporters when she officially claims the Democratic nomination.

    Fairbanks, one of 77 regular Minnesota delegates pledged to Sanders or Clinton, said she thinks Clinton is too hawkish and that she hasn't connected with young voters.   

  She also feels Clinton supporters too often talked down to Sanders backers during the campaign and that could make for some uncomfortable moments at the convention.

  "It's hard to have a peaceful relationship and co-exist with people who think that you're stupid or think that you're naïve," she said. "I hope that we can make some progress on that. I hope we can find some common ground."     

  Second-time Clinton delegate Claudia Cody knows how Sanders supporters feel.   

  Cody, a small business owner from Maplewood, was a Clinton delegate in 2008 when Barack Obama won the Democratic nomination. It was a big letdown for Cody that year, but she moved on and supported the nominee. She's now urging Sanders supporters to do the same.

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton
Earlier this month, presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton received Bernie Sanders' endorsement.
Justin Saglio | AFP | Getty Images

  "When we focus on unity and coming together and understanding what we're in it for, we're all Democrats," she said. "Moving that platform forward, that's what really matters."

Another Clinton delegate doesn't think unification will come easily.

"It's going to be a circus," said Michael Arulfo of Bloomington.     

He's solidly behind Clinton and believes in having a unified party but knows a lot of Sanders supporters personally, including many delegates. He said he expects Sanders people to make their voices heard on several issues.

  "I think it's going to be necessary. I think it's just a healthy part of the whole unification process," he said. "I'm not saying there's going to be crazy disruption. I don't think it's going to be that, and I hope it's not going to come to that."     

One issue Sanders delegates are expected to push for is the elimination of the party's unelected super delegate system.   

  DFL activists passed a resolution at their state convention supporting such a change. Minnesota has 16 super delegates, all of whom are party leaders or top elected officials. Despite the state caucus results, almost all of them back Clinton.

  Despite the lingering differences, Minnesota DFL Chair Ken Martin is confident delegates will leave the national convention unified and motivated to help Clinton defeat Republican Donald Trump in November.   

  Martin, who is a super delegate supporting Clinton, noted that Sanders already had a big influence on shaping the party platform and he expects Sanders delegates to express their view in Philadelphia and keep fighting for their issues moving forward.

"It's important for the party to have that debate," Martin said. "I've always said it's a healthy debate that we want in this party. I'm going to be working right alongside them to make sure their voices are heard."

Correction (July 25, 2016): Ashley Fairbanks' last name was incorrect in an earlier version of this story.