A handful of Democratic National Committee (DNC) members are reportedly exploring the possibility of changing the rules to “potentially weaken Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign” going into the convention, Politico reported on Friday.
According to Politico, a handful of DNC members are exploring the possibility of adjusting the current policy, which prevents DNC members and top party officials from voting on the first ballot at the party’s July convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It is a move that would “effectively boost” the influence of “superdelegates” and potentially damage Sanders’ chances of becoming the party’s nominee.
“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.”
Even proponents of the change acknowledge it is all but certain not to gain enough support to move past these initial conversations. But the talks reveal the extent of angst that many establishment Democrats are feeling on the eve of the Iowa caucuses.
“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.”
The discussion comes on the heels of Sanders’ steady rise in both early state and national polls. He currently leads in Iowa just days ahead of the February 3 caucuses, the current RealClearPolitics average indicates. Additionally, an NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey released on Friday shows Sanders edging out Joe Biden (D) for first place, 27 percent to 26 percent.
Sanders supporters have been growing frustrated with the DNC due to chairman Tom Perez’s appointment of former Hillary Clinton surrogates, who were openly hostile to Sanders in 2016, to the rules committee. Former Massachusetts lawmaker Barney Frank was named as a co-chair of the rules committee. Clinton former campaign manager John Podesta was appointed to the same committee.
“It’s very disappointing to see Chairman Perez build a list of this magnitude,” Sanders’ national co-chair Nina Turner said in an interview with Status Coup’s Jordan Chariton following the news.
“The DNC should be ashamed of itself because it really is a slap in the face to folks what we’re asking for reform,” she continued.
“If the DNC believes it’s going to get away in 2020 with what it did in 2016, it has another thing coming,” she warned.
However, the DNC is indicating that it is not taking talks of a rule change seriously.
“[DNC Chairman] Tom Perez fought tooth and nail to ensure our nominee would be chosen by pledged delegates, not automatic delegates,” DNC spokesman David Bergstein said, according to Politico.
“The DNC passed these reforms unanimously. These rules make our party stronger and help ensure our eventual nominee has the full support of the party behind them,” he added.
The convention is slated to take place July 13-16, 2020.