Members of the Democratic "establishment" and major Democratic donors have been holding meetings in Washington, D.C., The New York Times reports, trying to formulate a strategy that could keep the 79-year-old, progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) from getting the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
The not-so-secret pow-wows are taking place in backrooms and involve a number of big names like Democratic mega-donor Bernard Schwartz, who has been leading the charge against Sanders from New York, and Democratic leaders Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-MY) marshaling support in D.C. South Bend mayor and Democratic presidential contender Pete Buttigieg has reportedly attended the tet-a-tets and, of course, members of the Clinton world are involved, including former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, and longtime Clinton defender, David Brock.
They all seem to have their reasons; for some, they're still bitter over how Sanders refused to acknowledge and actively support Hillary Clinton as the nominee, given how much pull he commanded with grassroots Democrats. Others fear a far-left candidate could tank their chances against President Donald Trump, either because Sanders doesn't have wide appeal in significant swing states, or because a far-left candidate could open the field to a third party.
Democrats are counting on the "uniting force" of not liking Donald Trump to push them ahead of the current president, but they also know that, outside of social media and some urban centers where Democrats already command the vote, "Democratic socialism" isn't a popular concept. And to take the 2020 presidential election, Democrats will need to win in blue-collar, Rust Belt states where Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is reviled.
The Times reports that Democrats are particularly worried about what could happen if delegates are "carved up" among the more than a dozen 2020 contenders. The primary schedule next year is unique, and Super Tuesday — the day around 25% of all delegates are awarded — comes unusually close on the heels of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. By early March, 40% of available delegates will be decided, and the results could be so disparate, no single candidate will command a majority by the time the Democratic National Convention rolls into Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
"Unlike Republicans, who used a winner-take-all primary format, Democrats use a proportional system, so candidates only need to garner 15 percent of the vote in a primary or caucus to pick up delegates," the NYT reports. "And even if a candidate fails to capture 15 percent statewide, he or she could still win delegates by meeting that vote threshold in individual congressional districts."
And then there are the so-called "Super-Delegates" who can nullify all of the primaries if the nomination goes to a second vote. In 2016, by the time Bernie Sanders had won New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton had already locked up the Democratic nomination because she owned the party's Super-Delegates.
Aside from an open letter issued last week to Clinton ally and Center for American Progress head Neera Tanden, Bernie has stayed at least somewhat mum on the subject of intra-party warfare. He is raising money off The New York Times' report, however.