Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., greet each other before the first of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Tuesday, July 30, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Establishment types at the Democratic National Committee are so terrified that Bernie Sanders could end up as their party’s nominee – or that there could be a messy brokered convention – that they’re discussing changing the superdelegate rules at this year’s convention.
In the 2016 primary election, Sanders and his supporters claimed the superdelegates determined the nominee, ignoring the will of the people. Between 2016 and 2018 the party debated changes to the rules, and in 2018 the DNC changed the rules so that superdelegates don’t vote until the second ballot at convention. Given Sanders’ current strength in the polls (as Bonchie covered earlier), “about a half-dozen” members of the DNC executive committee are proposing reversing the 2018 policy.
“I do believe we should re-open the rules. I hear it from others as well,” one DNC member said in a text message last week to William Owen, a DNC member from Tennessee who does not support re-opening the rules. Owen, who declined to identify the member, said the member added in a text that “It would be hard though. We could force a meeting or on the floor.”
Based on the statements coming from Team Sanders and the Bernie Bros, that would be a massive mistake. They’re still pretty upset about 2016, and are hypersensitive to any hint of manipulation by the DNC. Some prominent members of the DNC, even those who supported keeping superdelegates on the first ballot, do understand just how risky of a proposition that would be and are publicly opposing the effort.
“There’s talk about somehow trying to change this rule at this convention — just casual conversation, and I have participated in it some,” said Don Fowler, a former DNC chairman from South Carolina who opposed the DNC’s decision in 2018 to strip superdelegates of much of their power in the presidential nominating process. “But I want to be clear that I would not be a party to any effort to do that in the 2020 convention … It’s bad sportsmanship.”
Fowler said, “I think it would be not in good faith if those of us who lost that fight in committee would somehow regenerate that fight in a national convention.” If they did, he said it would result in “the most hellacious fight you’ve ever seen at the Democratic convention.”
Donna Brazile doesn’t support changing the rules this year…but is open to looking at them again after the convention.
“My side, including me, we lost the debate. I don’t believe it’s wise to re-open a wound once it has healed.”
By 2024, she said, the rules will once again be “fair game, just like it was” after the 2016 presidential election. “But right now, we should be comfortable with the process,” she said.
Other DNC members who spoke to Politico confirmed that while most members want to keep the rules the way they are for this convention (to avoid a massive split in the party that would absolutely lead to Trump’s re-election), and Fowler stated that “there’s a great anticipation that after this convention, there will be an effort to adopt the old rules.”