DNC members discussing rules change aimed at stopping Sanders at convention

According to a new report from David Siders of Politico, some members of the DNC are discussing a potential rule change aimed at stopping Bernie Sanders at the convention.

In 2016, the DNC was well known to have deployed tactics meant to put Hillary Clinton at an advantage over Bernie and with Bernie now surging in polls, many Bernie supporters fear deja vu.

Siders writes:

A small group of Democratic National Committee members has privately begun gauging support for a plan to potentially weaken Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign and head off a brokered convention.

In conversations on the sidelines of a DNC executive committee meeting and in telephone calls and texts in recent days, about a half-dozen members have discussed the possibility of a policy reversal to ensure that so-called superdelegates can vote on the first ballot at the party’s national convention. Such a move would increase the influence of DNC members, members of Congress and other top party officials, who now must wait until the second ballot to have their say if the convention is contested.

“I do believe we should re-open the rules. I hear it from others as well,” one DNC member said in a text message last week to William Owen, a DNC member from Tennessee who does not support re-opening the rules.

Owen, who declined to identify the member, said the member added in a text that “It would be hard though. We could force a meeting or on the floor.”

Even proponents of the change acknowledge it is all but certain not to gain enough support to move past these initial conversations. But the talks reveal the extent of angst that many establishment Democrats are feeling on the eve of the Iowa caucuses.

Sanders is surging and Joe Biden has maintained his lead nationally, but at least three other candidates are widely seen as viable. The cluster raises the specter of a convention requiring a second ballot.

If Sanders wins the Iowa caucuses on Monday and continues to gain momentum, it is possible he could arrive at the convention with the most delegates — but without enough to win the nomination on the first ballot. It is also possible that he and Elizabeth Warren, a fellow progressive, could arrive at the convention in second and third place, but with more delegates combined than the frontrunner.

If, on the second ballot, superdelegates were to throw their support to someone else, tipping the scales, many moderate Democrats fear the upheaval that would cause could weaken the eventual nominee.

Conversations about a potential rules change picked up as Sanders ascended in the primary, but they have not gained traction to this point within the DNC.

“There’s talk about somehow trying to change this rule at this convention — just casual conversation, and I have participated in it some,” said Don Fowler, a former DNC chairman from South Carolina who opposed the DNC’s decision in 2018 to strip superdelegates of much of their power in the presidential nominating process. “But I want to be clear that I would not be a party to any effort to do that in the 2020 convention … It’s bad sportsmanship.”

Fowler said, “I think it would be not in good faith if those of us who lost that fight in committee would somehow regenerate that fight in a national convention.” If they did, he said it would result in “the most hellacious fight you’ve ever seen at the Democratic convention.”

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