According to a bombshell new article from the NY Times, Superdelegate Democrats are willing to risk party damage and infuriate Bernie Sanders supporters by not letting him have the nomination if he comes into the convention with a plurality, but not majority of delegates.
Krystal and Saagar of The Hill explain:
From the NY Times:
Jay Jacobs, the New York State Democratic Party chairman and a superdelegate, echoing many others interviewed, said that superdelegates should choose a nominee they believed had the best chance of defeating Trump if no candidate wins a majority of delegates during the primaries. Sanders argued that he should become the nominee at the convention with a plurality of delegates, to reflect the will of voters, and that denying him the nomination would enrage his supporters and split the party for years to come.
“Bernie wants to redefine the rules and just say he just needs a plurality,” Jacobs said. “I don’t think we buy that. I don’t think the mainstream of the Democratic Party buys that. If he doesn’t have a majority, it stands to reason that he may not become the nominee.”
This article is based on interviews with the 93 superdelegates, out of 771 total, as well as party strategists and aides to senior Democrats about the thinking of party leaders. A vast majority of those superdelegates — whose ranks include federal elected officials, former presidents and vice presidents and Democratic National Committee members — predicted that no candidate would clinch the nomination during the primaries, and that there would be a brokered convention fight in July to choose a nominee.
In a reflection of the establishment’s wariness about Sanders, only nine of the 93 superdelegates interviewed said that Sanders should become the nominee purely on the basis of arriving at the convention with a plurality, if he was short of a majority.
“I’ve had 60 years experience with Democratic delegates — I don’t think they will do anything like that,” said former Vice President Walter Mondale, who is a superdelegate. “They will each do what they want to do and somehow they will work it out. God knows how.”
As for his own vote, Mondale, the 1984 Democratic presidential nominee, said, “I vote for the person I think should be president.”
While there is no widespread public effort underway to undercut Sanders, arresting his rise has emerged as the dominant topic in many Democratic circles. Some are trying to act well before the convention: Since Sanders won Nevada’s caucuses Saturday, four donors have approached former Rep. Steve Israel of New York to ask if he can suggest someone to run a super PAC aimed at blocking Sanders. He declined their offer.
“People are worried,” said former Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, a former DNC chairman who in October endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden. “How you can spend four or five months hoping you don’t have to put a bumper sticker from that guy on your car.”
That anxiety has led even superdelegates to suggest ideas that sound ripped from the pages of a political drama.
In recent weeks, Democrats have placed a steady stream of calls to Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, who opted against running for president nearly a year ago, suggesting that he can emerge as a white knight nominee at a brokered convention — in part on the theory that he may carry his home state in a general election.
“If you could get to a convention and pick Sherrod Brown, that would be wonderful, but that’s more like a novel,” said Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn. “Donald Trump’s presidency is like a horror story, so if you can have a horror story you might as well have a novel.”
Others are urging former President Barack Obama to get involved to broker a truce — either among the four moderate candidates or between the Sanders and establishment wings, according to three people familiar with those conversations.
William Owen, a DNC member from Tennessee, suggested that if Obama was unwilling, his wife, Michelle, could be nominated as vice president, giving the party a figure they could rally behind.
“She’s the only person I can think of who can unify the party and help us win,” he said. “This election is about saving the American experiment as a republic. It’s also about saving the world. This is not an ordinary election.”
People close to Obama say he has no intention of getting involved in the primary contest, seeing his role as less of a kingmaker than as a unifying figure to help heal party divisions once Democrats settle on a nominee. He also believed that the Democratic Party should not engage in smoke-filled-room politics, arguing that those kinds of deals would have prevented him from capturing the nomination when he ran against Hillary Clinton in 2008.
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