Bernie Sanders may have lost the Democratic primary contest for president (yes, it’s over, even if he hasn’t formally conceded), but his campaign looks to be a win-win for his career in the Senate, where he returned Monday night.
Voting for the first time since January—on a series of gun regulation proposals—the Vermont Independent attracted a crowd on the Senate floor, with colleagues from both sides of the aisle approaching his desk to give him a handshake or a pat on the back. “Welcome back, Bernie!” Arizona Republican John McCain, himself a vanquished presidential candidate, told his colleague, after the two shared a hearty embrace.
With Sanders’s security detail, which he’ll retain until he officially suspends his presidential campaign, and a phalanx of photographers trailing behind him, he certainly looked the part of the celebrity politician in his return to the Capitol. And he has the following, among young people and diehard progressive across the country, to match. It’s a steep reversal from his decades toiling in the House and Senate, largely ignored by the Washington press corps and power brokers, as a lonely iconoclast. The really good news for Sanders is he’s been able to build up this new national standing without much of the typical blowback candidates see from voters back home, one of the occupational hazards that usually comes with running for president.
It’s not unusual for politicians running for national office to face a backlash—voters back home resent the time they’ve spent away from the state or district, not doing the work at the local level they were elected to do and instead focusing on their own political ambitions. But that’s not the case in Vermont this year. Sanders missed 101 straight votes between January and June of 2016, according to the website Govtrack.us. Yet he hardly took any heat from his Vermont base. Only when he was absent from Senate Democrats’ gun control filibuster on Thursday did a #WheresBernie hashtag start popping up on Twitter, drawing local and national press. Sanders also continues to top Morning Consult’s ranking of most popular senators among their own constituents, most recently in April.
What’s more, as the Boston Globe reported earlier this month, Vermonters want to see Sanders stay in the race through the convention. Globe reporter Akilah Johnson tells Newsweek she only encountered one Vermont resident during her reporting for that piece—a Hillary Clinton supporter—who suggested it was time for Sanders to come home. But she even said she still likes Sanders.
“The reason I think [the negativity] hasn’t happened to Bernie is pretty simple,” says Vermont State Senator Phil Baruth, who represents the Burlington area. He’s “put in the time.”
When he returns to the Senate full-time, Sanders will certainly enjoy the kind of stature he couldn’t have even dreamt of before his presidential run. Not only has he become a national spokesman for issues like reining in income inequality and big money in politics, but he’s also proven he has a magic touch with millennials and small-dollar fundraising, things that plenty of other Democratic politicians would love some help with. No wonder so many colleagues were welcoming him back with open arms on Monday night.
— Salon.com (@Salon) June 21, 2016
Superdelegates have been one of several topics of heated debate roused by the 2016 Democratic primaries. Early on in the race, some of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ supporters feared that superdelegates might help Hillary Clinton win the nomination over Sanders even if he got more of the popular vote during the primaries. Although Clinton won the majority of delegates tied to the popular vote in the end, Sanders still says he wants to eliminate superdelegates. And he may have enough support from Democratic officeholders to make that happen, or at least to reduce their number.
Superdelegates are Democratic Party VIPs, including current officeholders, who can cast their vote for any candidate at the National Convention, regardless of how people voted in the primaries. They comprise about 15 percent of the total number of delegates the party offers in 2016.
Politico interviewed almost 20 Democratic senators and found a surprising amount of support for either abolishing or reforming the superdelegate system. Some of the senators who support doing away with or lowering the number of superdelegates have endorsed Clinton, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Tim Kaine, both of whom Clinton floated as potential vice president picks. More than half of those interviewed said they think the number of superdelegates should at least be reduced, and only two were against the issue being debated at the convention in July, where party rules will be set.
Though some expressed agreement with the Vermont senator, others oppose eliminating superdelegates. Sen. Chuck Schumer, for example, defended the current set-up as a way of ensuring that people who have long-time experience working in the party have a special role in the nomination process.
The Congressional Black Caucus is also against any attempt to change the current system. In a letter to Clinton, Sanders, Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, the Caucus explained that eliminating the delegate status of officeholders would force those who wish to serve as delegates to run for slots against their own constituents. This concern could, however, be addressed by allowing officeholders to maintain delegate status while binding their votes to primary results.
Our brave young men and women in the military should not thrown into perpetual warfare in wars we should not be fighting.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) June 21, 2016
When Bernie Sanders routed Hillary Clinton in Colorado’s March 1 caucus, he did so with endorsements from only a scant few elected officials. Now the few prominent Democrats who bucked the establishment have a decision to make: keep on Bernin’ or get “with her.”
Former state house speaker Terrance Carroll, perhaps Colorado’s most prominent Sanders endorser, now says his Bern is over.
“I’m officially with her,” Carroll said in a written statement. “Now that the Democratic primary is over and Hillary Clinton has clinched the nomination for President, I am fully endorsing her in her bid to defeat Donald Trump.”
The endorsement comes as welcome news for the Clinton campaign, which is eager to woo Sanders’ energetic supporters to her side in a crucial November swing state.
But like Sanders himself, other prominent Bernie backers in Colorado aren’t ready to start cheerleading for their party’s presumptive nominee just yet.
In a sign that divisions might linger throughout the election, State Rep. Joe Salazar (D-Thornton) signaled that he may never raise his proverbial pom-poms for Clinton.
Asked whether he’ll back the eventual Democratic nominee, Salazar replied: “The nominee will get my vote, but not necessarily my endorsement.”
“I’m maintaining course with Bernie,” Salazar told 9NEWS. “Until I’m given clear direction from Sen. Sanders as to what he’s going to do.”
We must defeat the Trans-Pacific Partnership and make certain that it does not get a vote in a lame-duck session of Congress.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) June 21, 2016
— bernie sanders (@BernieSNewschan) June 22, 2016
North Dakota’s Democrats have selected 13 delegates for Bernie Sanders and five delegates for Hillary Clinton to attend the party’s presidential nominating convention next month.
The 18 pledged delegates were chosen during the party’s state delegate selection meeting on Saturday in Bismarck. The delegates were split based proportionately on the results of the June 7 statewide presidential preference caucus, in which delegates handed Sanders a 253-101 victory, with 40 uncommitted.
The state Democratic-NPL Party will send a total of 23 delegates to the national convention July 25-28 in Philadelphia.
Five of those are unpledged superdelegates who are free to switch their allegiance at any time before the convention. Of those five, U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp has endorsed Clinton, national committeeman Chad Nodland is supporting Sanders, and the other three are uncommitted.
In addition to the 18 people selected Saturday, each presidential candidate received one alternate delegate.
Dem-NPL Executive Director Robert Haider said more than 400 delegates and alternates attended the meeting at Bismarck High School.
“Folks are still very engaged in the process and very active in their support for both,” he said.
— People For Bernie (@People4Bernie) June 21, 2016
— Teachers For Bernie (@BernieTeachers) June 22, 2016
Some politicians and commentators say that Bernie Sanders is losing leverage because he hasn’t conceded the Democratic primary to front-runner Hillary Clinton. To believe that is to misunderstand both the candidate and his supporters. Sanders received a mandate in “defeat” that most politicians never achieve in victory.
The calls to surrender reached a fever pitch before the last primary even ended. We were told that Sanders was being stubborn, that he was rapidly losing influence. It was even said that all of the convention’s prime-time speaking spots would be taken soon if he didn’t concede soon, as if they were reservations at Nobu and he had no pull with the maître d’.
If Bernie were denied a prime-time slot at the convention, chaos would ensue. You can be sure that whenever and however the deal is struck, they’ll make room for him at a peak viewing hour.
The Clinton team’s impatience is understandable, even if it lacks a certain grace. But they’re misreading both Sanders’ nature and the nature of the negotiations now underway. So is The New York Times’ Nate Cohn, who tweeted:
“A fun thought experiment: Imagine Sanders winning but Clinton refusing to endorse unless he adopted her views, etc.”
That thought experiment would make sense in a typical primary campaign. But this year is different. Even without context, the raw numbers are impressive.
Leverage? As New Yorkers used to say, “I got your leverage right here“:
● 12 million votes.
● Victory in 22 states.
● 45 percent of pledged delegates.
● A history-making small-dollar fundraising campaign that outraised his well-heeled opponent.
That was all while facing one of the most powerful Democratic clans in history, rejecting big-money donors, and challenging one of the most famous people in the world as a leftist outsider.
Health care is a right, not a privilege. It's time for the United States to implement a single-payer system like Medicare for all.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) June 21, 2016
— NC For Bernie (@NCForBernie) June 21, 2016
Over the weekend, as Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont made no public appearances, his supporters won their latest victory.
Nebraska Democrats were meeting to elect convention delegates and new state party leadership. Chuck Hassebrook, the party’s 2014 nominee for governor, was competing for the chairmanship with Jane Fleming Kleeb, a leading activist against the Keystone XL pipeline.
Hassebrook had backed Hillary Clinton for president; Fleming Kleeb had backed Sanders.
Fleming Kleeb won, and it wasn’t close. Meanwhile, Nebraska Democrats agreed to recommend that superdelegates, instead of enjoying free agency, be bound in future elections to the winners of state contests.
They joined Alaska, California, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, in a growing roll call of states that want superdelegates abolished or hemmed in — another priority of the Sanders campaign.
In his public statements, Sanders has laid out a three-pronged Democratic Party reform plan.
Superdelegates should be abolished; primaries should be opened to all voters; and ‘‘the most progressive platform’’ in party history should be approved in Philadelphia.
So far, there’s progress on all three fronts.
— Bob 4 Bernie Sanders (@Bob4Bernie) June 22, 2016
The Republican Jewish Coalition released internet videos attacking Democrats by going after Israel critics on the party’s platform drafting committee.
The three ads released Tuesday target, respectively, Cornel West, a philosopher who backs the boycott Israel movement; Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., who has been critical of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, and James Zogby, the president of the Arab American Institute. All three were named to the committee by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
Each 30-second ad, backed by sinister music, features quotations attributed to its subject– only West is seen speaking – and accuses him of being “stridently anti-Israel.” Each finishes with a shot of a smirking Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, while the narrator says, “It’s today’s Democratic Party.”
“As the presumptive Democratic nominee, it is up to Secretary Clinton to maintain the bipartisan consensus on Israel and to do so she must denounce anti-Israel voices in her party like James Zogby, Cornel West and Congressman Ellison,” an RJC statement quoted its director, Matt Brooks, as saying.
Clinton’s appointees to the committee, and the expert witness she sent earlier this month to testify to the committee, pushed back against the main Israel-related demand advanced by West, Zogby and Ellison: that the platform refer to Israel’s control of the West Bank as an “occupation.”
From Flint, Michigan to California we have communities unable to drink the polluted water that comes out of their faucets. In the year 2016.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) June 21, 2016
YES! A summary of the DNC Platform Committee Hearing. @BernieSanders made some amazing choices.
Watch & listen.https://t.co/CBu5Olmd0T
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) June 22, 2016
A chorus of howls erupted at a Democratic Party meeting on Tuesday when officials loyal to Gov. Andrew Cuomo nominated him to chair the Empire State’s delegation to next month’s Democratic National Convention.
The uproar was sparked by supporters of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who won about 42 percent of the vote in New York’s April 19 primary and have been calling for respect during the convention.
They simmered last month in Saratoga Springs, as a slate of delegates was formally nominated but the formal proceedings had the hue of Hillary Clinton, who is backed by Cuomo and the rest of the state’s elected establishment.
On Tuesday, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown nominated Cuomo to lead the delegation during a pre-convention gathering at a union hall in Manhattan. There were immediate howls from Sanders supporters when Mike Reich, the Democratic State Committee’s longtime secretary, ignored shouted calls for additional nominations, people at the gathering told POLITICO New York.
“There was yelling in the back, but he shouted over it,” said Ben Yee, a Sanders delegate who is also secretary of the Manhattan Democratic Committee. “The front half of the room raised its hand. He said all opposed, and then the back half of the room raised its hand. Then there was a lot of booing and shouting. From there it degraded.
Yee said there had been a huddle of Sanders supporters before the meeting got under way to discuss strategy.
“What was agreed was that we would request an up or down vote, so people could register their discontent — and there would be a number generated,” he said. “People wanted to have their votes counted.”
— Still Sanders (@ND4Bernie) June 21, 2016