Announced re-election bid for third Senate term.
Self-proclaimed socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) caused quite a commotion in 2016 when he challenged Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination. Hillary came out on top, but not without controversy. Leaks showed those in the DNC worked to sabotage Sanders’ campaign.
The energy behind Sanders’ presidential bid may still be abuzz as his former campaign manager Jeff Weaver said the senator is still mulling a 2020 run.
But will it work? Politico found that his grassroots group Our Revolution is “in disarray.”
First off, we know Sanders does not plan to leave government work since he announced this morning that he is seeking re-election for a third term.
His statement included all of his fantasy ideas: $15 minimum wage across the country, “Medicare for all single payer program,” and free public college!
All of those ideas and more energized people to support him in 2016, especially among the youth. But who knows if he’ll experience the same kind of groundswell in 2020:
But an extensive review of the Sanders-inspired group depicts an organization in disarray — operating primarily as a promotional vehicle for its leader and sometimes even snubbing candidates aligned with Sanders. Our Revolution has shown no ability to tip a major Democratic election in its favor — despite possessing Sanders’ email list, the envy of the Democratic Party — and can claim no major wins in 2018 as its own.
The result has left many Sanders supporters disillusioned, feeling that the group that was supposed to harness the senator’s grass-roots movement is failing in its mission. The problems have also fueled doubts about Sanders’ organizational ability heading into 2020, even after his out-of-nowhere near-march to the nomination two years ago. Critics of the Vermont independent had been worried he’d have a juggernaut-in-waiting to fuel a second presidential campaign, but that anxiety has faded after watching Our Revolution the past year and a half.
“Our Revolution is going through growing pains,” acknowledged Jane Kleeb, the group’s treasurer, while arguing that progress is being made. “Creating a grass-roots organization is different from running a presidential campaign.”
Politico wrote that Sanders “is legally separated from Our Revolution” and he “does not keep up with its day-to-day activities and has expressed discomfort with attacks by affiliates of Our Revolution against some politicians.”
I don’t think that matters much since the organization “uses his name, quotations and photos” along with the same “colors and fonts” he used in his campaign. Plus his top operatives from his campaign formed this group.
Here are a few things Politico discovered:
- Board members and Sanders presidential delegates from 2016 have raised questions about whether the group’s president, Nina Turner, is using her position to prepare for a presidential run of her own, and to settle scores with the Democratic National Committee from 2016.
- Two weeks ago, the group’s board of directors nixed Turner’s attempt to install her personal political consultant and friend as her chief of staff, even though the person had no experience in political organizing and had praised President Donald Trump repeatedly and attacked immigrants on Fox News.
- Monthly online fundraising totals have plummeted to just one-third of the group’s take a year ago, based on an analysis of processing fees reported to the IRS by Act Blue, the tool Our Revolution uses, and verified by several people familiar with its finances. Our Revolution maintains that it’s still running a surplus and that repeat donations are steady.
- Amid the poor fundraising, Our Revolution earlier this month filed paperwork to launch a PAC so Sanders can help it raise money directly and so the group can coordinate directly with campaigns.
- A founding board member resigned last month, saying Our Revolution wasn’t paying adequate attention to Latino candidates and issues of importance to Latinos.
Those close to Sanders worry that these problems will “have a harmful spillover effect” if he chooses to run in 2020. One 2016 delegate said that Sanders “needs the enthusiasm.”
Democrats have expressed frustration over Our Revolution sitting out of so many races across the country. Plus, the few times the group backed a candidate, that candidate ended up losing. The group backed Rep. Tom Perriello in the Virginia governor’s race and promised him that if they send out fundraising emails in his name, he could receive “between $150,000 and 300,000.” They only brought in $50,000. Centrist Ralph Northam beat Perriello in the primary and ended up winning the general. Our Revolution did not back Northam.
One person inside the group doesn’t think the “scoreboard” matters:
Our Revolution leaders said that what they’re building goes much deeper than winning elections. The focus, said Larry Cohen, the group’s volunteer chairman, “is not that scoreboard. The focus is: Can we grow in actually measurable ways in this movement?”
He described efforts to help 600 local chapters grow, get trained and employ technology such as personalized text messages and emails. Those tools, Cohen said, make Our Revolution more potent than people may realize if they’re paying attention only to traditional or surface-level politics.
Our Revolution, for example, said it texted 35,000 supporters on behalf of Dennis Kucinich‘s failed campaign for governor in Ohio, and sent 11,000 texts backing successful gubernatorial primary winner Paulette Jordan in Idaho.
But most of what Our Revolution has become known for in campaigns is an active and often combative Twitter account.
All of this makes me wonder if Sanders only received enthusiasm and support because he went against Hillary. Earlier this month, a poll from Suffolk University showed that New Hampshire prefers two other Democrats. From Newsweek:
Sanders trails Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren as well as former Vice President Joe Biden in a survey of New Hampshire voters’ preferred 2020 candidate, according to new polling from Suffolk University released on Wednesday. Sanders won over just 13 percent of New Hampshire voters, while Warren was preferred by 26 percent of the respondents and Biden by 20 percent. New Jersey Senator Cory Booker fell below Sanders with 8 percent, California Senator Kamala Harris and former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick each got 4 percent, and former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand received 2 percent each.
The poll was administered more than two years ahead of 2020’s general election, but the results suggest that a state that once considered Sanders their first choice for president is open to other options when presented with a slate of potential Democratic contenders.
“For someone who hasn’t visited New Hampshire in over a year, Joe Biden’s popularity is strong and steady,” David Paleologos, Suffolk University Political Research Center’s Boston director said. “What is perhaps surprising is that Bernie Sanders—who secured 60 percent of the New Hampshire Democratic primary vote in 2016—is retaining less than half of that support two years later.”
Weaver said this month that the only thing that could keep Sanders from running in 2020 is “[A] meteor falling on his head.”
Who knows. It wouldn’t shock me if Sanders chooses to run in 2020, especially if the Democrats try to persuade him to stay out. I just don’t think he’ll have the excitement he generated in 2016 unless Hillary decides to pop back in.DONATE
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