DNC superdelegates warn they will block Bernie Sanders at convention and spark civil war within party

Graig Graziosi
Mr Sanders says 'establishment is getting afraid': Getty

Senator Bernie Sanders’ issues with the Democratic establishment may continue past the nominating races and into the Democratic National Convention, according to a new report.

If Mr Sanders arrives at the convention with any less than a majority of delegates pledged to him, he may find himself with a wave of superdelegates voting against his nomination.

The New York Times reported Thursday that in interviews with 93 superdelegates, only nine said that Mr Sanders arriving at the convention with a plurality was reason enough to support him as nominee.

In the event that Mr Sanders does only win a plurality of pledged delegates, there could be a brokered convention and subsequent fight to choose a nominee.

The Times report was “based on interviews with the 93 superdelegates, out of 771 total, as well as party strategists and aides to senior Democrats about the thinking of party leaders.”

Those leaders apparently told the Times they anticipated a fight at the July nominating convention.

“A vast majority of those superdelegates - whose ranks include federal elected officials, former presidents and vice presidents and DNC members - predicted that no candidate would clinch the nomination during the primaries, and that there would be a brokered convention fight in July to choose a nominee.”

Politico reported similar findings. In interviews with 20 superdelegates, none of them expressed explicitly endorsement of Mr Sanders’ belief that whoever gets the most pledged delegates by the convention should get the nomination.

“No, no I think the rules are set and we ought to follow the rules. Especially when someone says follow the rules who’s not even a Democrat,” Congressman Jaun Vargas said. Mr Vargas has endorsed former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg for nominee.

Thanks to a rule change limiting the powers of superdelegates - which largely came about due to criticism from Mr Sanders following the 2016 Democratic primary - they are now only allowed to vote if no candidate wins the 1,991 pledged delegates needed to reach a majority.

Congressman Anthony Brown, who has endorsed former South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg, said there is “going to be a fight no matter what the outcome is.”

Should Mr Sanders arrive at the convention with a strong plurality, any attempt by superdelegates to nominate someone else is likely to be seen by Mr Sanders’ supporters as the Democratic establishment gaming the system to nominate their preferred candidate. Such a move would likely damage the already tenuous coalition between establishment Democrats and progressive Democrats.

“It’s going to be pretty tough to take the nomination away from someone who’s got a strong plurality. If it’s neck and neck and close and everybody’s close, that’s one thing. But if there’s a clear winner, it’s hard to overturn,” Congressman John Larson said. “People can fantasize about a brokered convention but it’s going to be awfully hard to overturn the will of the people.”