Bernie Sanders is staying on the ballot after suspending his campaign, seeking to continue amassing delegates in a bid to gain more influence over the party’s platform for November. After a Democratic primary that grew contentious at times, the decision has been met with acceptance in some corners and enthusiasm in others, even as party leaders push for unity.
As Business Insider noted, Sanders announced this week the suspension of his presidential campaign after former Vice President Joe Biden took what was seen as an insurmountable lead in pledged delegates. While Sanders will no longer be campaigning and appeared to give up hope of winning the party’s nomination, he announced that he would stay on the ballot in all races and wanted to continue gathering delegates that could give him power to help shape the party’s platform.
“While Vice President Biden will be the nominee, we must continue working to assemble as many delegates as possible at the Democratic Convention, where we will be able to exert significant influence over the party platform, and other functions,” Sanders said.
The decision has not seemed to cause waves in a party looking to unite in its goal of defeating Donald Trump. As the New Jersey Globe reported, Democratic Party county chairs said they understood the decision to stay on the ballot and support his pledged delegates earned so far. Amy DeGist, the chair of the party in Hudson County, New Jersey, said she believes that the party will still come together even with Sanders fighting for more delegates.
“I hope separate from that, the Sanders camp, the Biden camp, the entire DNC are actively communicating how they are going to bring the party together and win in November,” she said.
The decision was also met with enthusiasm for many of Sanders’ supporters, with some political allies and field offices encouraging people to continue voting for Sanders to give him greater influence at the Democratic National Convention this summer.
Biden, too, has made overtures toward Sanders and his supporters. This week, Biden released a proposal to lower the age of eligibility for Medicare from 65 to 60, which NPR noted was a nod to the Medicare for All plan pushed by Sanders during the Democratic primary. Biden had previously endorsed the idea of offering tuition-free college for many students, adopting a version of the plan that Sanders had pushed to make college tuition free for American students.