WASHINGTON (TIP): Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders split primary wins in Kentucky and Oregon respectively on May 15 as they continued an internecine electoral slugfest that is driving Democratic Party grandees to despair.
Party stalwarts fear the prolonged intra-party fracas, which is now getting bitter, is starting to cost the party campaign time, money, and votes, even as the Republican Party begins to rally around Trump after he worsted his rivals, and has pretty much wrapped up the nomination. Trump himself has started taunting Hillary Clinton for not being able to shake off Sanders.
But the 72-year old self-professed socialist Senator from Vermont is just refusing to fade out despite trailing Clinton by a huge margin in the race towards the 2383 delegates needed to win the Democratic nomination. On Tuesday, he notched up another impressive in the liberal state of Oregon (54.5-45.5) while narrowly losing Kentucky by only a few thousand votes to Clinton (46.8-46.3).
The win did little to change the delegate count because of the way the system is designed, with the party establishment awarding pledged delegates proportionally to votes secured, and the un-pledged delegates leaning heavily towards Clinton, leaving her 2291-1528 ahead.
But Sanders has refused to back down. He has promised to take the fight all the way to California, among the last state to primary on June 7 (on the day Prime Minister Modi is scheduled to arrive in Washington DC), leaving the Democratic party with the enervating prospect of seeing another three weeks of bloodletting, even as Trump and the Republicans get their act together.
In fact, the tension within the Democratic Party has increased even as Sanders’ chances of winning the nomination, despite the massive popular grassroots support he has, is decreasing.
Over the weekend, Sanders’ supports erupted in anger when the Nevada Democratic Party began awarding delegates to Clinton, accusing party stalwarts of rigging the system.
Chaos and vandalism followed at the meeting keynoted by Clinton surrogate Barbara Boxer, a retiring California Senator who is also related to her, with some Sanders’ supporters accused of issuing death threats to party veterans favoring Clinton.
Sanders called the allegations “nonsense” even as he reveled in massive public adulation on the west coast where he will make his last stand.
Some of his supporters concede that he has only a theoretical chance now of winning the nomination (he has to win 855 of the 946 delegates still in play, which means he has to beat Clinton by something like 85-15 in the remaining primaries), but they want him to remain in the fray if only to influence the Clinton platform (manifesto) with the outside chance she may draft him as her running mate (or cabinet colleague if she wins, as Obama did with Hillary).
But current feud is driving party stalwarts crazy because it is distracting them from also recapturing the Senate, where the Republicans have a 54-46 advantage, but Democrats see many vulnerable GOP candidates in the 34 Senate races (one-third of the Senate also goes to polls on Nov.8)
“If Clinton can’t put Sanders away, can she beat Trump?” was the headline of one oped, among the many that reflected on whether the lack of fervor and passion among her flock, unlike that exhibited by supporters of Sanders and Trump, would be her undoing. (PTI)