DENVER – The resurgence of Sen. Bernie Sanders in the presidential nominating process is triggering alarm in the Democratic Party, with many warning that a ticket headed by the self-declared socialist could be devastating to the party's chances of winning the Senate and holding the House in November.
In anxious huddles, apprehensive Democrats are sharing their worries that Sanders' socialist label and unyielding embrace of controversial proposals like “Medicare for All” and the Green New Deal will repel voters in the affluent, moderate districts that flipped control of the House in 2018 and in closely divided states where Republican senators are vulnerable.
The Vermont independent narrowly won New Hampshire on Tuesday on the heels of a strong showing in Iowa and is widely seen as a front-runner, along with former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Rep. Tom Malinowski, D-N.J., a freshman from a competitive district, said Democrats need a presidential nominee who “doesn't scare all those future former Republicans more than Trump scares them.” And while acknowledging that Republicans plan to tar all Democrats with the socialist label, “There's one candidate for whom that would not be a lie.”
Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., who backs the candidacy of former Vice President Joe Biden, warned a group of Democratic voters this week in Carson City, Nevada, that with Sanders atop the ticket, “you're not going to take back the Senate. There's not any way, because everybody's going to be tarred with the same brush. We will probably lose seats in the House.”
Republicans face an uphill fight in capturing control of the House, which Democrats lead 232-197, with one independent and five vacancies. The GOP controls the Senate 53-47 and is favored to retain its majority.
Rep. Ami Bera, D-Calif., who's endorsed Biden, said if Sanders were nominated, Democrats from moderate districts “might actually have to run away from our nominee to get elected.” And he added, “It's highly unlikely that Bernie Sanders will moderate his views, either.”
While many Democrats are reluctant to openly express dismay about Sanders, members of the House have spoken with their feet.
Sanders has endorsements from only seven House members, all members of the progressive caucus from safely Democratic districts. Biden, in contrast, has backing from 41 House members, and has made a point of touting support from seven lawmakers from swing districts. Bloomberg, who hopes to poach Biden's position as the moderate alternative to Sanders, has racked up recent nine endorsements from House members, five of whom occupy swing seats.
Iowa chairman resigns after debacle
The chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party announced his resignation Wednesday after a disastrous caucus process beset by technical glitches led to a dayslong delay in reporting the results and no clear winner.
The embarrassing episode also threatened Iowa's cherished status as the first voting contest of the presidential primary season and led both front-runners to request a partial recanvass of the results. “The fact is that Democrats deserved better than what happened on caucus night,” Chairman Troy Price wrote in a resignation letter.
Patrick ends bid for nomination
Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, the last remaining African American candidate in a Democratic presidential field once defined by its diversity, ended his 2020 campaign Wednesday after his late bid failed to resonate with voters.
Patrick launched his bid for president in mid-November but failed to register in polling and fundraising and never made it onto a debate stage. His decision leaves just one other candidate of color, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a Samoan American, in the Democratic contest. It brings the number of Democrats in the presidential primary race to eight.