House and Senate Democrats have wondered for months whether Bernie Sanders’ supporters might choose to focus their energy on launching primary challenges to party moderates in 2018. They’re about to get an answer.
Sanders has decided the moment is right to launch his proposal for the single-payer health insurance system that helped form the backbone of his presidential message. And Democrats who don’t get behind it could find themselves on the wrong side of the most energetic wing of the party — as well as the once and possibly future presidential candidate who serves as its figurehead.
The Vermont senator himself has not explicitly said he’ll support primary challenges to those who won’t support his push for a so-called Medicare-for-all health care plan. But there are plenty of signs that Sanders and his allies view the issue as a defining moment for Democratic lawmakers.
“Our view is that within the Democratic Party, this is fast-emerging as a litmus test,” said Ben Tulchin, the pollster for Sanders’ White House run.
With Sanders promising to play a major role in 2018 races, that’s led many party officials to worry about the prospect of his involvement in primaries that could upend the Democratic establishment’s plans to win crucial House, Senate and gubernatorial seats.
“There’s a concern that [Sanders allied] people will try to make a stir,” said a senior Democratic aide working on a 2018 campaign. “You can’t just be a liberal Democrat in a lot of these states and be elected. [So] the question is how we improve the lives of people instead of playing these political games.”
Sanders allies don’t find that argument convincing.
“Any Democrat worth their salt that doesn’t unequivocally say Medicare-for-all is the way to go? To me, there’s something wrong with them,” said former Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner, president of Our Revolution. “We’re not going to accept no more hemming and hawing. No more game playing. Make your stand.”
More news/video/etc. in the comments!