The socialist senator from Vermont and his supporters seem to have the upper hand over a party establishment worried hes too leftwing
Raging against the machine has taken Bernie Sanders a long way. In 2016, his disdain for the establishment and the donor class gave progressives a near-perfect foil to Hillary Clinton, who was cast as the anointed Democratic candidate for president.
Sanders was beaten in the primary but the senator and his allies clamored for and won changes to party rules they said were rigged. Now, the partys role in choosing its nominee has been limited and a Sanders nomination is a very real possibility. At the top of early polls, the increasingly confident senator from Vermont is daring the political establishment to stop him.
They are terrified of our movement as they should be, campaign manager Faiz Shakir wrote in an email to supporters as part of an emergency 48-hour fundraising drive to counter what he called a serious threat to our campaign.
The appeal was sent out after a New York Times report revealed a series of private dinners in which Democratic leaders, strategists, donors and even a presidential candidate, Pete Buttigieg had met to discuss the matter of What To Do About Bernie.
Not long before the Times story came out, Sanders had escalated a feud with the Center for American Progress, a liberal thinktank founded by a Clinton ally. In a sharply worded letter, he accused the group of trying to smear him in a video produced by an affiliated website.
Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, said Sanders was sending a very clear signal to the party that, If you want me to play ball whether I win or lose the nomination then dont intervene in any way in the nomination process.
Democrats have worked hard to mend the wounds of 2016 and to forge a united front against Donald Trump. Early in 2017, Sanders joined Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez on a unity tour. He also accepted a Senate Democratic leadership position, an unusual move for a registered independent.
But many Sanders supporters remain deeply suspicious of Democratic institutions and leaders, and in return some Clinton supporters, and indeed the former nominee, secretary of state, senator and first lady herself, believe his attacks caused lasting damage in 2016.
After Sanders launched his 2020 White House run, tensions between the camps flared. The senator drew an unusually sharp rebuke from Clintons spokesperson when he said he had no interest in seeking advice from the former nominee, citing fundamental differences. The dust-up followed a Politico story in which loyalists traded insults.