Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has no intention of dropping out of the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, and as the July convention draws closer, his decision to keep his campaign alive may mean chaos for the Democratic party. Five more states have suspended their Democratic primaries amid concerns about coronavirus, and it may soon be impossible for any candidate to win a majority of delegates.
The New York Times reports that Indiana, Connecticut, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Maryland have now joined Ohio in postponing their presidential contests, leaving the future of the Democratic presidential nomination uncertain. Ohio, of course, was supposed to vote last Tuesday, but suspended their primary contest just hours before people were to head to the polls, over concerns that voting sites were not prepared for large numbers of people who could spread the novel coronavirus.
Other states, like New York, where coronavirus numbers are high and growing, are looking at postponing or canceling their upcoming primaries, concerned that the virus will still be spreading weeks or even months from now. Puerto Rico, which is on lockdown, is due to hold its primary at the end of March and that will likely be postponed. Alaska, Hawaii, and Wyoming vote on April 4th, still within the Federal government’s suggested quarantine period.
April 7th will see the true test: Wisconsin, a battleground state, highly coveted by Democrats who lost it narrowly to President Donald Trump in 2016, is scheduled to hold its primary then and Democrats want a vote turnout number so that they can have an idea of where the Wisconsin presidential contest is headed.
After that, no state will vote again until the end of April.
The Democratic party is clearly concerned, the NYT points out. Neither of the frontrunner candidates has the 1,991 delegates necessary to secure the nomination, and without further contests, neither may end up with enough.
“Tom Perez, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, urged states with upcoming contests to expand their use of other voting methods, such as voting by mail, no-excuse absentee voting, curbside ballot drop-offs and early voting to lessen any Primary Day crunch.”
“He added that the D.N.C. would work with states on their delegate selection plans and methods; the current D.N.C. rules stipulate that states will be penalized for holding elections after June 9, and that all delegates must be allocated by June 20,” the outlet wrote Sunday.
None of the presidential candidates, Republican or Democrat, are currently holding events. Sanders is working on a coronavirus relief package with Democratic colleagues in the Senate and former Vice President Joe Biden has been all but absent from the airwaves in recent days. The hashtag “#WhereIsJoe?” trended for some time on Friday and Saturday as social media sought input from the presumptive Democratic nominee.
To help address concerns that he is too “tuned out” of current events to be an effective presidential candidate, Biden’s team told supporters Saturday that he plans his own “shadow” briefings on coronavirus, to follow and, likely, counter President Donald Trump’s daily briefings on the subject. But Biden has access only to former Obama Administration officials and experts removed from the Federal government’s coronavirus response plan, and can only critique the president’s response from afar.