Dozens of Democratic National Committee superdelegates may be prepared to stop Bernie Sanders from securing the party’s nomination if he finishes in the lead but fails to win a majority of pledged delegates, a new report claims.
Sanders has jumped out to a lead in delegates after wins in two of the first three contests of the Democratic primary, but the crowded field means that there could be a contested convention ahead in the summer. Under rules that the DNC set out for the primary, a candidate must win a clear majority of pledged delegates in order to secure the nomination on the first round of voting at the conference. If no one has a majority, the party’s superdelegates are then free to vote on the second round and could select another candidate.
A new report from The New York Times found that there are dozens of superdelegates fearful about the idea of making Sanders the nominee and could stop him from getting the nomination on a second vote. The report noted that among these individuals — made up of elected Democratic officials and party leaders from across the country — there is an “overwhelming” concern that Sanders would lose to Trump and that they were willing to risk the political turmoil that would come from stopping his nomination.
Sanders has already advocated for the superdelegates to select the candidate who receives the most pledged delegates in the primary, even if no one reaches a clear majority. He has opposed the idea that superdelegates wield the power to overturn the will of the people, though opponent Elizabeth Warren has pointed out that the Vermont senator took the opposite stance in 2016 when he was trailing Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary and it looked unlikely he would be able to catch her.
In a televised town hall meeting in South Carolina, Warren was asked why she supported the idea that superdelegates could select someone other than the candidate with the most delegates, and noted that Sanders not only advocated for them to pick him over delegate-leader Clinton, but also was the only Democratic hopeful who had a hand in writing the current rules. The DNC held a unity conference in order to craft the rules for the 2020 contest, and Sanders sent representation to push for changes that took power away from superdelegates. The DNC did lessen their power, taking away their ability to vote on the first ballot.
As Warren noted, all candidates agreed to abide by those rules — which meant that the candidate with a plurality of pledged delegates may not end up representing the party.
“The way I see this is you write the rules before you know where everybody stands, and then you stick with those rules,” Warren said, via Boston.com. “So, for me, Bernie had a big hand in writing these rules. I didn’t write them. But Bernie did.”