With just a few weeks to the first primary ballots, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has won the potentially game-changing endorsement of the progressive advocacy group, MoveOn.Org.
Members of the group voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday in favor of the Vermont senator’s presidential campaign.
The progressive grassroots organization announced Tuesday that in an online vote its members endorsed Bernie Sanders for president, with 78.6 percent of votes cast by more than 340,000 members. Hillary Clinton won a comparatively paltry 14.6 percent of votes, while Martin O’Malley received 0.9 percent of votes.
Commenting on the vote, Ilya Sheyman, the executive director of MoveOn Political Action, said, “This is a massive vote in favor of Bernie Sanders, showing that grassroots progressives across the country are excited and inspired by his message and track record of standing up to big money and corporate interests to reclaim our democracy for the American people.”
“MoveOn members are feeling the Bern,” she continued. “We will mobilize aggressively to add our collective people power to the growing movement behind the Sanders campaign, starting with a focus on voter turnout in Iowa and New Hampshire.”
She said the organization, which has about 8 million members on its list, will work to mobilize 75,000 of its members in Iowa and New Hampshire.
The group reportedly has about 43,000 members in Iowa, and 30,000 in New Hampshire.
The overwhelming vote in favor of Sanders by MoveOn members was expected. The Sanders campaign draws support from the same progressive base as MoveOn.
Sanders’ focus on finance reform finds widespread and enthusiastic support in the grassroots progressive movement.
Before Sanders declared for the presidential race, MoveOn had launched the “Run Warren Run” campaign to push the progressive Massachusetts Senator, Elizabeth Warren (D), into the race. But after it became clear that she was not running, the organization abandoned the campaign and finally settled for Sanders.
According to Sheyman, MoveOn’s endorsement of Sanders campaign was a “natural progression from the Run Warren Run campaign.”
MoveOn emerged in 1998 as a group opposing moves in Congress to impeach President Bill Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky scandal. The name, “MoveOn,” was derived from the language of a petition by the group urging Congress to “move on” from the scandal to more pressing issues facing the country.
But the group has since fallen out with the Clintons. The group campaigned in opposition to the Iraq War, which Hillary Clinton voted for in Congress. The group also endorsed Barack Obama during the 2008 primaries, with 70 percent of members voting in favor of the young senator’s campaign.
Hillary Clinton stayed away from a forum for Democratic presidential candidates hosted recently by the group.
Reacting to Clinton’s decision to stay away, Anna Galland, executive director of MoveOn Civil Action, said, “It’s a shame that Secretary Clinton declined to participate in the MoveOn member forum. She missed an opportunity to speak directly to and energize the progressive base she’ll need in her corner not just to win the nomination but also the general election, if she is the party’s nominee.”
Sanders picks up the latest endorsement, as Vice President Biden praises him for his track record on issues related to income inequality, and appeared to disparage Hillary Clinton’s commitment in that area, saying that she is “relatively new” to the issue.
Biden told CNN political analyst Gloria Borger that “Bernie is speaking to a yearning that is deep and real. And he has credibility on it.”
When asked about Clinton, he said, “It’s relatively new for Hillary to talk about that. Hillary’s focus has been other things up to now, and that’s been Bernie’s — no one questions Bernie’s authenticity on those issues.”
Sanders had previously received support from Democracy for America, another major progressive group that was part of the “Run Warren Run” campaign.
[Photo by Charlie Neibergall/AP Photo]