Polls are just about closed in western IN and KY; eastern parts of those states closed at 6pm.
(image attribution: NYT)
Music videos are encouraged, along with tweets, news, jibber-jabber.
Budtenders are available as well!
Polls are just about closed in western IN and KY; eastern parts of those states closed at 6pm.
(image attribution: NYT)
Music videos are encouraged, along with tweets, news, jibber-jabber.
Budtenders are available as well!
Energized by universal healthcare and free college tuition, enthusiastic young Latinos favored ‘Tio Bernie’ – and Biden has work to do to convince this crucial voting bloc
Thomas Kennedy remembers spending all day on the phone keeping up with excited new voters wanting to know how “el caucus” worked, ahead of the first Democratic primary contest in Iowa in February.
The most noticeable callers were highly motivated young mothers, part of a huge wave of Hispanic voters, activists and volunteers inspired to get involved in politics for the first time by passion for their candidate.
That candidate was Bernie Sanders. Kennedy, a progressive activist and former Sanders operative, has switched to support Joe Biden, who will next week become the Democratic nominee for president, but worries whether Biden can win over valuable young progressives underwhelmed by his moderate politics.
“Bernie talked directly to people’s material needs,” said Kennedy. The clear populist promises of universal healthcare and cancelling student debt in particular caught fire, Kennedy said.
And expansive outreach and slogans like ‘¡Nuestro Futuro, Nuestra Lucha!’ — Our Future, Our Struggle – clicked with the cohort who nicknamed Sanders “Tío Bernie” (Uncle Bernie).
For the first time, Latinos are poised to be the nation’s largest non-white ethnic voting bloc in the 2020 election, with a large young cohort among the estimated 32 million eligible to vote – a record.
Democrats know that their support is crucial to winning the White House – and potentially both chambers of Congress – but concerns remain over whether Biden can not only persuade young progressives who were energized by Sanders, but mobilize Latinos in decisive numbers at a moment when the coronavirus and economic crises are disproportionately hurting communities of color.
“The Biden campaign must reach young people,” María Teresa Kumar, the president of Voto Latino, a political organization focused on voter engagement. “Because if you’re not reaching young people, you are not reaching the Latino community.”
A survey published last month by Voto Latino and pollster Latino Decisions found that only 60% of Latino voters in six battleground states say they definitely plan to vote, and fewer than half say they are “extremely motivated and enthusiastic” about doing so.
Though the poll was conducted before many of Trump’s recent comments on immigration and the coronavirus, it found enthusiasm for Biden waning, particularly among young Latinos. His support among Latino voters slipped to 60% from 67% in February. By comparison, 73% of Latino voters supported Hillary Clinton at this point in 2016.
“When I worked for Bernie, it wasn’t about electing one person. It was about a movement,” Belén Sisa, a former Sanders press secretary, said. “I don’t feel that from Joe Biden.”
Since the primary, Biden has appeared to move to the left on key policies important to young Latinos. He has embraced a $2tn climate plan, though not the Green New Deal, and pledged an ambitious overhaul of Trump’s immigration orders, and an economic agenda centered on racial equality.
“We’ve moved the needle a bit,” Sisa said.
But, like many progressives, she is frustrated by Biden’s reluctance to embrace Medicare for All, the universal healthcare policy that she says would reduce health disparities for Latinos, who are among the country’s most uninsured. And he has refused to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice), the agency carrying out hardline Trump anti-immigration policies at the US-Mexico border and in raids in US cities.
Sisa also said Sanders’ campaign invested more, much earlier, to cultivate Latino voters.
Chuck Rocha, the architect of Sanders’ ambitious Latino outreach strategy, is now applying some of the tactics used to win Hispanics voters in primary contests from Iowa to California, to help Biden beat Trump in November.
After Biden won the primary, Rocha founded Nuestro Pac, a Democratic Super Pac that will target Latino voters in Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida, Nevada and Pennsylvania.
“Part of our work is spreading the message that Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden agree 75% to 80% of the time,” Rocha said.
The Biden campaign recently made other high-profile hires including Julie Chavez Rodriguez, the granddaughter of civil rights hero Cesar Chavez, and Matt Barreto, the founder of Latino Decisions, a top Democratic polling firm. The campaign has also hired Republican strategist Ana Navarro.
Biden’s platform aimed at Hispanic voters – “Todos con Biden” – focuses on healthcare, education and reversing Trump’s anti-immigration agenda. Biden has promised to reinstate the Daca program of rights and protections for undocumented young people, and send a bill to Congress “on day one” that would create a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the US.
He has also pledged a 100-day moratorium on deportations.
During the primary campaign, Biden was repeatedly confronted by immigration activists who demanded contrition for the more than 3 million deportations carried out while he was vice-president.
“You should vote for Trump,” Biden told one critic. Weeks later, he was obliged to apologize for the “pain” caused by the policies.
Earlier this week, prominent Latino politicians, activists and organizations applauded the selection of Kamala Harris as his running mate. Harris, the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, represents California, which has the largest population of Hispanic voters in the nation.
Domingo Garcia, president of Lulac, the oldest Hispanic organization in the US, said: “She [Harris] knows what Dreamers are facing, the impact Covid-19 is having on black and brown communities, and the contributions immigrants are making to the economy of the United States.”
— mike casca (@cascamike) August 16, 2020
More news, tweets, videos, etc in the comments. This serves as an open thread.
The DNC Platform Committee rejected the Medicare for All amendment introduced by longtime single-payer advocate Michael Lighty by a vote of 36-125 during a virtual meeting Monday. The committee also voted down separate attempts to include support for expanding Medicare to children, dropping the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 55, and legalizing marijuana.
“Shameful. And during a pandemic,” tweeted progressive radio host Kyle Kulinksi in response to the defeat of the Medicare for All amendment. “History will not judge this kindly. It’s like opposing the New Deal during the Great Depression. Unforgivable.”
Come join us for more news, tweets, videos and other jibber jabber in the comments. See you there!
More than 360 delegates, most of whom back Sanders, have signed on to a pledge to vote against the Democratic Party’s platform if it does not include support for “Medicare for All,” the petition’s organizers told POLITICO. They argue that single-payer health care is an urgent priority amid a worldwide pandemic and the biggest unemployment crisis since the Great Depression.
“This pandemic has shown us that our private health insurance system does not work for the American people. Millions of people have lost their jobs and their health care at the same time,” said Judith Whitmer, a Sanders delegate and chair of the convention’s Nevada delegation who helped spearhead the pledge. “There’s people leaving the hospital now with millions of dollars in medical bills. What are we going to do about that?”
The warning is all but certain to set up a clash between Sanders’ most dedicated supporters and presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, who opposes Medicare for All, at a time when the party is seeking to demonstrate unity ahead of its August convention. Though the petition signers have little chance of revising the platform to include Medicare for All support, they do have the numbers to draw attention to their protest and cause.
It is also likely to trigger fears among Democratic leaders about a repeat of the 2016 convention, when the party’s divides were on public display as Sanders supporters booed the mention of Hillary Clinton.
The left-wing groups Progressive Democrats of America and RootsAction.org are announcing Monday that they support the vow to vote against the platform if it doesn’t include Medicare for All. The Bernie Delegates Network, a coalition made up of hundreds of Sanders delegates, said it will also publicize the petition. Organizers expect those efforts will net hundreds more signatures, including from Biden delegates.
“The sea change that’s underway could swell as a result of this initiative,” said Norman Solomon, national director of RootsAction.org and a Sanders delegate. “It’s a reasonable hope that historians will look back at the next couple of weeks as a time when hundreds of delegates stepped forward and said, ‘This is a red line for a humane society and we’re not going to stop saying so.’”
Biden currently has 2,632 delegates, while Sanders has 1,076, according to POLITICO’s delegate tracker.
Despite their frustration with Biden, progressive leaders behind the pledge all said they are voting for Biden and working to elect him. RootsAction.org, for instance, noted that it is planning to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on an effort to persuade swing-state progressives who are on the fence to get behind Biden.
Organizers also said they are not being divisive — rather, it’s the party leaders who are overruling the grassroots who are being divisive, they argued. They point to exit polls showing that majorities of Democratic primary voters across states are in favor of Medicare for All.
“We’re going to fight like hell for Biden. And there’s no contradiction between doing that and supporting this pledge,” Solomon said.
Whitmer said Sanders delegates in Nevada began circulating the pledge on Thursday through Slack and delegate groups. Though she did not provide precise numbers, she said it is safe to say that a majority who signed on are Sanders delegates, though some Biden delegates have as well. Activists hope a significant number of Biden delegates will support the vow.
The announcement of the pledge comes as President Donald Trump is attempting to paint Biden as a “puppet of the radical left.” His campaign has spent at least $14 million on a misleading ad claiming that police would be defunded under a Biden administration. The former vice president came out against defunding police almost as soon as it gained prominence.
Last week, a DNC committee released a draft platform that did not include support for Medicare for All or other top progressive priorities such as a jobs guarantee or the “Green New Deal,” despite Sanders aides’ efforts to include them as planks. Organizers are going public with the Medicare for All pledge now in part because they hope to influence the Democratic National Committee’s platform committee, which is taking up the agenda on Monday. Whitmer said activists successfully persuaded a member of the panel to submit an amendment to back single-payer.
The pledge by delegates to vote against a platform without Medicare for All represents something of a split over strategy between Sanders and his most passionate supporters. After moderates accused him of failing to do everything he could to persuade his supporters to back Clinton in 2016 — a charge he vehemently denied — the Vermont senator has taken multiple steps to bring the Democratic Party together this cycle.
Sanders set up “unity” task forces with Biden, which released recommendations earlier this month. Progressives successfully pushed Biden’s allies to move left on certain issues, such as climate change, immigration and a no-deductible public option for health care. But they failed to persuade moderates on the task forces to back legalizing marijuana, end “qualified immunity,” or embrace single-payer.
Sanders aides again tried to push centrists on the DNC’s draft committee to get behind Medicare for All, but failed to do so. However, they did manage to insert a nod to single-payer in the platform.
“Generations of Democrats have been united in the fight for universal health care. We are proud our party welcomes advocates who want to build on and strengthen the Affordable Care Act and those who support a Medicare for All approach; all are critical to ensuring that health care is a human right,” the draft states.
But some progressive activists were unimpressed, pointing to the more than 5 million people that liberal advocacy group Families USA said have lost their health insurance between February and May because of the coronavirus.
“Democrats who understand the profound need for Medicare for All don’t want a pat on the head,” Solomon said. “We want a genuine political commitment to health care as a human right. Biden hasn’t gotten there.”
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Should Biden consider spending big in Deep Red States Like GA, OH, & TX?
Jonathan Martin at the NYT writes:
In a series of phone calls, Democratic lawmakers and party officials have lobbied Mr. Biden and his top aides to seize what they believe could be a singular opportunity not only to defeat Mr. Trump but to rout him and discredit what they believe is his dangerous style of racial demagogy.
This election, the officials argue, offers the provocative possibility of a new path to the presidency through fast-changing states like Georgia and Texas, and a chance to install a generation of lawmakers who can cement Democratic control of Congress and help redraw legislative maps following this year’s census.
Mr. Biden’s campaign, though, is so far hewing to a more conservative path. It is focused mostly on a handful of traditional battlegrounds, where it is only now scaling up and naming top aides despite having claimed the nomination in April.
At the moment, Mr. Biden is airing TV ads in just six states, all of which Mr. Trump won four years ago: Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona, North Carolina and Florida. The campaign included perennially close Florida only after some deliberations about whether it was worth the hefty price tag, and when Mr. Trump’s struggles with older populations made it clearly competitive, according to Democrats familiar with their discussions.
The campaign’s reluctance to pursue a more expansive strategy owes in part to the calendar: Mr. Biden’s aides want to see where the race stands closer to November before they broaden their focus and commit to multimillion-dollar investments, aware that no swing states, let alone Republican-leaning states, have actually been locked up.
I think Mr. Biden’s campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon should be well advised her client is not Barack Obama for re-election. But yet, these centrists persist:
“Trump’s abominable presidency, especially in the context of the total failure to confront coronavirus, makes Texas very winnable,” said Representative Filemon Vela, an early Biden supporter. He said he is “getting bombarded” with pleas from Texas Democrats who are similarly convinced the state could turn blue with a substantial commitment.”
Mr. Vela, who represents a long stretch of South Texas, said he had repeatedly made his case in recent weeks with Mr. Biden’s campaign manager, Jennifer O’Malley Dillon. He argued that the former vice president’s strength with Black voters and suburbanites, and his ability to shave the party’s rural losses, gave him the party’s best chance in decades to claim the state’s 38 electoral votes.
Yes, Trump hit and ran, got caught this time with a pandemic, which finally unveiled more layers of racism, and gross incompetence. Personally, I think Biden’s consultant class really needs to focus on the VP, the platform, and strategies for dealing with a deep recession if he wins. I would not worry about ad buys. The networks are going to have to cut their prices as it is.
Moreover, Biden appears fragile to those who don’t know him very well, especially younger voters. Trump is an old man too, with gaffes. But it would not take very many gaffes for Biden to make on TV or in speeches online to deter some voters into staying with the devil they know or not vote at all in those red states.
The Clinton camp was overconfident in steering resources away from WI, MI, and PA by going to AZ in 2016. Going to AZ may make sense this cycle, but OH? Only if Biden picked Nina Turner to run with him. Otherwise, let’s hope history with the DNC consultant class doesn’t repeat the mistakes of 2016. Although they are bound to, just listening to the dull platform from
2012 2016 being proposed for 2020.
What’s going on your neck of the beach, woods, desert, or prairie? or urban areas?
More tweets, videos, news, etc in the comments. See you there! This serves as an open thread.
Politicians still separate climate issues from the wedge ones, not seeing the intersectionality.
Here Are the Corporate Lobbyists on the DNC Committee That Blocked the Climate Debate https://t.co/LmCctGL8ha
— Jamal Raad🌲 (@jamalraad) May 22, 2020
Perez had come out against amending the rules to allow for a climate debate in a June blog post, although he later unilaterally changed other sanctioned debate qualifications, such as the individual donor threshold. At the time of the climate protests, Sludge reported the DNC was accepting large donations from fossil fuel executives, placing the party outside of the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge endorsed by every leading Democratic presidential candidate.
Who, then, are the DNC members of the Resolutions Committee who first voted against recommending a climate debate?
The DNC does not make the membership lists of its standing committees available to the public, but Sludge obtained a full DNC committee roster as of September 2019 from a DNC member.
The 28-member Resolutions Committee contains at least five members with backgrounds in advancing corporate interests: three current corporate lobbyists, one of them a co-chair of the committee and another a News Corp lobbyist put forward by Tom Perez; one past electric utility lobbyist and drug industry consultant, who established a Democratic precedent of corporate PAC fundraising; and one principal with a consulting firm whose current clients include large corporations and whose past clients include BP. The committee also includes Symone Sanders, a senior advisor for Joe Biden’s presidential campaign.
Crucially, at least 13 of the standing committee’s 28 members are at-large DNC members, which means they were put forward as a slate by Perez and approved by a voice vote, not individually elected. Of these 13, ten committee members voted against a climate-focused debate when the matter was voted on by the full DNC membership, as tracked by a publicly-viewable spreadsheet released by Michael Kapp, a pro-transparency DNC member from California, as well as Kenji Yamada, also from California. (The previous roll call of the 17-8 Resolutions Committee vote to not recommend endorsing a climate debate is not available online.)
The party Charter states that the Resolutions Committee “shall receive and consider all resolutions proposed by a member of the DNC on matters of policy proposed for adoption, by the Democratic National Committee, and shall report in writing.” However, no written records of deliberations around party resolutions are made available online or to anyone outside of a DNC member who requests them, and video is not recorded and put online for later viewing of committee proceedings.
The Resolutions Committee is co-chaired by Hon. Lottie Shackelford, an at-large DNC member who was mayor of Little Rock, Arkansas from 1987-1988. As one of three senior advisors at consulting firm Global USA, Shackelford’s past lobbying clients include Allstate Insurance, Hyundai, and from 2000-2008, a coalition of Big Bank trade groups called FM Watch.
According to records maintained by ProPublica, Shackelford and Global USA lobbied for several months in 2006 for Strategic Communication Company on “Taxes pertaining to oil and gas companies.” Shackelford did not respond to an email inquiry requesting more information about this lobbying activity, or seeking comment on how her committee evaluates and discusses potential conflicts of interest among members with corporate clients.
The committee’s other co-chair is Stuart Appelbaum, a DNC member from New York who is the current chair of the DNC Labor Council. Appelbaum is president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) and was appointed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to the state’s Regional Economic Development Councils.
Both co-chairs, Shackelford and Appelbaum, voted against approving a climate-focused presidential debate in the full DNC member vote in August 2019.
Below is a rundown of several other members of the Resolutions Committee and their affiliations with corporations that engage in lobbying.
Charlie King—at-large DNC Member
King is a partner at lobbying firm Mercury Public Affairs and a former senior advisor to New York Gov. Cuomo’s re-election campaign. Mercury was hired by 68 clients to lobby the federal government in 2019, including the Government of Qatar and defense company United Technologies, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, receiving a total of $9.5 million in lobbying fees. In 2018, reporter Lachlan Markey found eight additional foreign-registered clients signed by Mercury after it succeeded in getting Russian aluminum parent company En+ removed from the Treasury Department’s sanctions list.
Mercury Public Affairs had several lobbying clients last year in the energy and natural resources sector and the oil and gas industry, including natural gas company PennEast Pipeline ($120,000), methanol maker Yuhuang Chemical ($420,000), and EnVen Energy Ventures ($80,000), an oil and gas exploration and drilling company in the Gulf of Mexico. This year, EnVen and Yuhuang continue to use Mercury for lobbying, and the public affairs firm keeps large clients in industries adjacent to fossil fuel production. Last year, these clients included the South Carolina Ports Authority ($160,000), Hyundai motor company ($240,000), and defense contractor General Dynamics ($290,000).
King explained his vote against a climate-focused debate to the San Francisco Chronicle in September 2019 as a vote to keep other fundamental civil rights issues in the spotlight, saying, “I can’t remember the word ‘poverty’ mentioned in any of the debates. For us to elevate to one critical issue over every other critical issue, I just can’t do.” King’s firm did not respond to an email inquiry for comment on how he addresses conflicts of interest with fossil fuel clients in his work on the Resolutions Committee.
Hon. Tony Coelho—at-large DNC member
Coelho is a former U.S. representative from California who in 1986 was elected House majority whip. After being named chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 1980, Coelho pioneered aggressive party fundraising from corporate PACs that had business before Congress. In 1985, a profile in The New Republic reported that he fought to retain tax breaks enjoyed by independent oil and gas drillers, lining up their financial support for the Democratic Party.
After resigning his House seat in 1989 due to a brewing loan scandal, Coelho later lobbied the federal government as a founding partner of Vectis Strategies in 2013 and 2014 for electric provider Edison Utilities. His many corporate board seats have included being elected chair of consulting services company ICF in November 1998 and commercial bank Esquire Bank.
Joanne Dowdell—at-large DNC member
Dowdell, who ran as a Democratic candidate for a U.S. House seat in New Hampshire in 2012, has been since April 1, 2016 a registered lobbyist for News Corp, where she is senior vice president of global government affairs. Dowdell was one of several corporate lobbyists put forward as at-large DNC members by Perez in an October 2017 “purge” of party leaders who had supported Perez’s rival, then-Rep. Keith Ellison, and greater transparency measures within the DNC. At the time, Bloomberg reported, “A DNC aide who asked not to be identified defended including the lobbyists, saying they were all carry-overs from the last presidential election cycle and were renominated because of their service to the party.”
Symone Sanders—at-large DNC member
A senior adviser to the Biden campaign and previous press spokesperson, Sanders had called a climate-focused debate “dangerous territory in the middle of a Democratic primary process,” saying it “would fundamentally change the game” of what the campaigns had been told. Sanders defended her position on Twitter in the days before the full DNC member vote, saying she does not represent the Biden campaign as part of her responsibilities on the DNC’s Resolutions Committee. Sanders then voted with the majority against holding a climate debate.
Craig Smith—at-large DNC member
A Democratic strategist since Bill Clinton’s successful 1992 presidential campaign, Smith is currently a principal at PSB, a research firm and consultancy for businesses, governments, and politicians. PSB’s current corporate clients listed on its website include the California Chamber of Commerce, Coca-Cola, Ford, pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, McDonald’s, and Microsoft. At the time of the firm’s 2001 sale to advertising giant WPP, PSB’s corporate clients also included American Express, BP, and Novartis. Founded by pollster Mark Penn, the firm is known for its services to centrist Democrats such as Joe Lieberman’s 2004 presidential bid and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s runs in 2001 and 2005, as well as Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.
Five DNC officials have not responded to multiple requests for comment over the past several months on how DNC members implement the party Charter’s commitment to a political ethics where officials “shall refrain from acting in their official capacities when their independence of judgement would be adversely affected by personal interest or duties.”
Good thing it is a long weekend ahead. What’s on your radar? Join us in the comments below!
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread almost as fast as the bush fires that plagued Australia for months, I am reading snippets about the fear. Most of the blue governors, particularly those of CA, IL, NY, & WA taking the lead, are issuing stay-at-home for state residences the next month. They are listening to epidemiologists and public health experts. And likely, insurance companies. One wonders how much Ron DeSantis is listening to experts when he decided cities or counties could reopen the beaches just 24 hours after his stay at home order, and Colorado State University released its hurricane forecast. Prediction: above normal activity. Moreover:
BEFORE THE STORM — “South Florida hospitals cut back staff and work hours, await surge in coronavirus patients,” by Sun Sentinel’s Cindy Krischer Goodman: “In what may be an ironic Catch-22, South Florida hospitals are reducing staff hours, forcing paid time off or reducing pay while they await a predicted surge of coronavirus patients.”
This is the best part of America. But those governors would not have been quite as bold in the past. They would been passive-aggressive like Andrew Cuomo, who serves corporate masters, or Jerry Brown’s last term, in which he expressed no desire in warring with chemical companies. But thanks to Bernie Sanders and his “Not me. US” approach, they have chosen to be leaders, trying to put fingers in the dikes, and keep people employed, children instructed, and get more help to the frontlines. I predict that many states will consider measures to sidestep constitutional requirements to fiscal balance.
Bernie Sanders is trying to be one of the leaders in the Senate that is pushing for more unemployment insurance, free testing, free treatment (in next bill), moratorium on rent (which I see being extended to Small Businesses, which Bernie would favor), etc. Bernie’s presence in the Senate would not garner the media nor establishment’s notice if he were no longer in the race.
And this why, with due respect, if the WaPo is reporting accurately, you should re-embrace the grassroots and trust us. We aren’t rich but we will keep pushing, especially with the knowledge the campaign is putting forward about what negotiations are taking place, and also from experts in public health. We are solid ground with great soil. Bernie has done more to enrich it by bringing back the thematic vision that Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt held in partnership. In this crisis, Bernie may not appear as a happy warrior as FDR did during the Depression, but when I see a chess game set up on a real chessboard in the background of a recent virtual town hall on COVID-19 legislation, it says that Bernie is considering every move and how it impacts other moves. The moves may not be perfect, but do not discourage Bernie from continuing his campaign and raising the issues. The ideas resonate and all of us are calling our representatives, sending notes to Senators, etc, demanding action. This is exactly what Bernie does best: the organizer in chief.
The campaign should be saying: we’re on and will keep fighting for our universal goodness for the working masses and those who will possess greater needs in the near future. I would say that between now Father’s Day, there will be more bills to pass to fight this pandemic and the corruption that is so blatant. I’m happy to make a phone call. Meantime, this part of my post is aimed at Faiz: it’s time that Bernie rally his base and the indies again. Get him an interview on The Young Turks with Ana Kasparian. Go on Tim Black’s show, Kyle’s, Nomiki’s, Democracy Now, all of the shows that Way of the Bern, C99, and we watch.
Last bit of advice: make getting a debate with Biden a priority, in which both candidates have to appear remotely from their home studios and not in a hostile corporate studio like last time. Let the American people decide who is the leader for today and tomorrow. You can worry about the DNC later. The primary season has already been extended by the DNC.
This guy didn’t leave the struggle. You shouldn’t let him give up now, just as he didn’t give up for working-class people in the South Side of Chicago.
(credit: Tribune Archives via the DU)
Here we are birdies, another Saturday night in the political season. And it’s primary night in South Carolina.
This state was such a lost cause for Bernie Sanders the last time he ran for president that the candidate stopped coming here in the crucial stumping days before the 2016 primary election. He got crushed, losing by 47 percentage points.
So the Rev. Al Sharpton on Wednesday morning found himself doing a double take to be here, of all places, introducing the Vermont senator at his candidate breakfast as the nationwide Democratic front-runner.
“Many never thought ‘Bernie Sanders’ and ‘front-runner’ would be in the same sentence,” said Sharpton, the civil rights activist whose blessing is eagerly sought as Democratic candidates seek inroads with black voters.
At a time when Sanders’ rivals are in a full state of panic over his momentum and have shifted from ignoring the democratic socialist to putting all their energy into trying to stop him, they are particularly alarmed by the traction he has been getting in this state, where some 60% of Democratic primary voters are African American.
It reflects the depth and durability of the Sanders coalition, which has exploded in size with his success.
“The question black folks in the South were asking before was: ‘Who is Bernie Sanders?’” said Justin Bamberg, a South Carolina lawmaker and civil rights attorney supporting Sanders. “Now, it is not ‘Who is Bernie Sanders?’ It is ‘Why not Bernie Sanders?’”
Sanders may not win here in South Carolina; the latest polls continue to show Joe Biden winning and holding the largest share of African American voters. But there’s little question that Sanders has drawn substantially more support from black voters this time around than four years ago. His message hasn’t shifted at all. His appeal to nonwhite voters has.
“We have come a long, long way” in South Carolina, Sanders told a raucous crowd at a rally here Wednesday.
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders debate in January 2016 in Charleston, S.C. Sanders lost the state by 47 percentage points that year.(Timothy A. Clary / AFP-Getty Images)
Only 53% of black voters nationwide had a favorable view of Sanders at this point in the last presidential race, according to Gallup, nearly 30 percentage points lower than for opponent Hillary Clinton. But a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found black voters this cycle just as inclined to vote for Sanders as for any other candidate — a turnabout from months ago, when the same poll had Sanders far behind.
In South Carolina, the Sanders campaign absorbed the lessons of the senator’s flop here in 2016. In the intervening years, Sanders and surrogates have returned to the state again and again, visiting its small towns and urban centers, knocking on doors, networking with local officials, just listening. In this state, politics is as much about who you know as what you know. And the Sanders operation got to know a lot of communities.
“He has learned from his mistakes,” said Antjuan Seawright, a South Carolina political consultant not aligned with any candidate in the primary. “He’s learned how to engage, how to prioritize certain communities, where to make investments. His team on the ground has figured out where votes are and who they can activate.”
The success Sanders has had in the few states that have voted already also plays big, but that momentum only goes so far. Sanders learned that in 2016, after his shellacking of Clinton in New Hampshire did nothing for him here and in other Southern states. And Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., is learning that lesson anew as he struggles to translate strong showings in Iowa and New Hampshire into votes in the South.
The Sanders campaign and Our Revolution, the progressive organization launched by his backers, never stopped building infrastructure here after 2016. They doubled down on efforts to reach potential voters who weren’t politically engaged. The Sanders staff here is twice the size it was in 2016. At this point in that election cycle, Sanders had just five endorsements from state lawmakers here. Now he has racked up at least 36.
At his rally Wednesday, Sanders boasted that his campaign has knocked on 200,000 doors in South Carolina this cycle.
As rival campaigns pursue consultant-driven strategies centered on ads, news releases and press conferences designed to cast doubt on Sanders’ ability to go the distance, the senator’s grass-roots approach has been drawing in voters like Rebecca Bentley.
Bentley didn’t vote for Sanders in 2016; she didn’t vote for anyone. “I didn’t have any political views,” she said. “I was completely uninvolved.”
The 29-year-old who has been on Medicaid much of her life and has also lived in federally subsidized housing was inspired to register to vote by Sanders’ agenda on healthcare and other social programs.
“It really resonated with me that someone was actually listening,” said Bentley, who described herself as Hispanic and Native American.
It is a familiar story in this state, where the Republican leadership refused to participate in the expansion of Medicaid that was offered to states by the Affordable Care Act.
“The issues Sanders is talking about are resonating here,” said Bruce Ransom, a political science professor at Clemson University. “The Trump administration is talking about how well the economy is doing, and folks here are not doing that well. They are living in a state where the Medicaid expansion did not take place. Many of them would like to make $15 an hour,” as Sanders is proposing for the minimum wage.
As rivals focus intensely on branding Sanders as unelectable in November, many voters aligning with him for the first time are seeing just the opposite.
Among them is Dawn Pemberton, who supported Hillary Clinton in 2016 and is now all in for Sanders.
“That moderate, middle box just doesn’t seem to be working for our country,” said Pemberton, 48, who recently left a job in real estate.
Gerry Elliot also supported Clinton in 2016. “My more pragmatic head took over,” he said. “I thought Hillary could win. I didn’t think Sanders could win.”
Now, the 51-year-old pastry chef is not so sure. He is wavering between Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. “I’m looking for something different,” he said. “I just want change in the status quo.”
Biden’s poor showing in the states that have voted so far has some voters reconsidering their initial instinct to align with a pragmatist establishment candidate who had seemed best equipped to beat Trump.
“A former vice president, particularly one under Barack Obama, should not be getting crushed in any state,” Bamberg said. “You should not be getting blown out. People here have eyes and ears. They see it. They want someone they feel can win long term.”
So some voters in South Carolina are giving Sanders a fresh look.
The campaign officials and volunteers who in 2016 would encounter a voter already aligned with Hillary Clinton at nearly every door they knocked on tell a very different story now. Sanders is just as much a household name.
Actor Kendrick Sampson, an Angeleno and Texas native who was here campaigning for Sanders in 2016, said he understood the skepticism voters had at the time.
“You don’t come into Texas talking about nothing — I don’t care how much I agree — if we don’t know or trust you,” he said. “Especially if you are not from Texas. People [in South Carolina] just didn’t know who he was.”
Sampson is back again talking to voters at their houses, at barbershops, in restaurants, and the reception is different. “Now they know who he is, and they know his brand,” Sampson said. “And now they trust him.”
Polls are closing. We’ll also keep an eye on Bernie’s whereabouts this evening.
Bernie is having a rally in Norfolk, VA:
The bar is open, drinks on the house, courtesy of US!
Post your jibber jabber, tweets, news, and videos in the comments.
I’ll start us with some Hootie & the Blowfish (did y’all know they were from South Carolina?)