On Wednesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders announced he was suspending his 2020 presidential campaign. The announcement came after a series of primary losses to former Vice President Joe Biden, who is now the presumed Democratic Party nominee. However, in Sanders’ resignation, he also said he would remain on the ballot in states that still have primaries. This left many wondering, if Sanders is still on the ballot, what does this mean for Biden’s nomination?
Sanders made it clear that he viewed Biden as the party’s nominee, but that doesn’t mean that Biden is automatically the official Democratic candidate. He still has to receive the party’s nomination, which happens at the Democratic National Convention in July. If Biden secures 1,991 pledged delegates at the DNC, which now seems likely, he will be the official nominee.
But by remaining on the ballot, voters can still choose Sanders in their state’s primary, which will allow him to continue to gather delegates. Currently, Sanders has 924 delegates to Biden’s 1,225. Staying on the ballot and acquiring more delegates heading into the DNC is something Sanders believes will give him the ability to influence the 2020 Democratic platform.
“I will stay on the ballot and all remaining states and continue to gather delegates, while Vice President Biden will be the nominee,” Sanders said in a speech Wednesday. “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. Then together, standing united, we will go forward to defeat Donald Trump —the most dangerous president in modern American history — and we will fight to elect strong progressives, at every level of government.”
Delegates won by candidates who have dropped out are encouraged to vote for the person endorsed by the former candidate they represent, but they do not have to and are technically free agents. Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg won 26 delegates before dropping out of the race in March, while Sen. Amy Klobuchar won 7 and Sen. Elizabeth Warren won 81 (Buttigieg and Klobuchar have endorsed Biden; Warren did not endorse).
Although Biden is the “presumed” party nominee, he won’t become the official nominee until the DNC commences. Given that Sanders dropped out of the race, it’s unlikely that Biden will be challenged in any other capacity, including the very real possibility of a brokered convention that many believed may happen if no candidate received enough delegates. Sanders suspended his campaign because he did not see “a viable path to the nomination,” though his influence over the Democratic party remains strong.
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