Sanders delegates threaten challenge to Kaine
© Greg Nash

PHILADELPHIA — A group of Democratic delegates backing Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersAngst grips America's most liberal city Democrats warn shrinking Biden's spending plan could backfire Democrats say they have the votes to advance .5T budget measure MORE (I-Vt.) said Monday that they are actively exploring a challenge to Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineOvernight Defense: Watchdog blasts government's handling of Afghanistan conflict | Biden asks Pentagon to look into mandatory vaccines | Congress passes new Capitol security bill GOP, Democrats battle over masks in House, Senate Senators introduce bipartisan bill to expand foreign aid partnerships MORE’s (Va.) vice presidential nomination.

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"There's serious interest right now and exploration as we speak of a formal challenge with an alternative candidate," said Norman Solomon, a Sanders delegate and national coordinator of the Bernie Delegates Network.

The group, which is independent of the Sanders campaign, said it was actively polling its members, which include 1,250 of Sanders’s 1,894 delegates.

The group released a poll earlier this month that found that less than 3 percent of its supporters found Kaine acceptable.

Solomon said he hoped the Democratic National Committee (DNC) releases information within hours on how to submit a challenger to Kaine, which he said would require the signatures of 300 delegates.

He said they have until Wednesday morning to file a challenge to Kaine and stressed that while his group would take any requests from the Sanders campaign under consideration, the delegate group is an independent organization. 

Karen Bernal, a Sanders delegate from California, said presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonClintons, Stacey Abrams meeting Texas Democrats Biden says Russia spreading misinformation ahead of 2022 elections Highest-ranking GOP assemblyman in WI against another audit of 2020 vote MORE needs to "walk the walk" with the progressive wing of the party. 

"Her choice for Tim Kaine speaks so much louder than anything she's said on the campaign trail," she said.

Still, Solomon said, "We're not delusional. We understand Tim Kaine is going to be the vice presidential nominee."

The group hinted that there would likely be protests on the convention floor Monday night but didn't go into specifics.

Monday's press conference comes hours ahead of the formal opening of the party's convention in Philadelphia.

Sanders supporters expressed frustration with the national party Monday after WikiLeaks posted emails showing that top DNC officials apparently worked to undermine the Vermont senator's campaign.

Asked about the potential for protests when DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz us at the podium, Bernal said, “I would be very surprised if you could have a conversation in normal tones.” Wasserman Schultz on Sunday announced that she would resign from her role at the end of the convention.

— This report was updated at 12:35 p.m.