Some national and state Democratic party leaders concerned about Sen. Bernie Sanders’ candidacy are willing to risk a messy, brokered national convention this summer, which could be potentially damaging to the party, to prevent the self-described Democratic socialist from becoming the nominee, The New York Times reported.
Of the 93 superdelegates the Times interviewed, a majority expressed an “overwhelming opposition” to naming Sanders the party’s nominee if he wins a plurality of pledged delegates before the Democratic National Convention in July.
The vast majority also predicted that no candidate would secure the party’s nomination during the primaries and that there will be a brokered convention, the Times reported.
Only nine superdelegates the Times spoke to supported Sanders becoming the nominee if he’s short of a majority at the convention but holds the most delegate votes.
In order to win the nomination, a Democratic candidate needs 1,991 pledged delegate votes, which they earn during the primaries and caucuses.
Under rules passed in 2018, if there is no majority winner, pledged delegates and superdelegates would then vote on a second ballot at the Democratic National Convention, and more if needed, until one candidate consolidates a majority of the delegates. There are about 770 superdelegates.
The second ballot vote could lead to a potentially contentious floor fight, given that all delegates become unpledged after the first vote.
The Times report comes as the party is torn between nominating a moderate or progressive candidate who they feel can best take on President Donald Trump. The superdelegates who spoke to the Times shows the growing anxiety establishment Democrats feel in having Sanders as their nominee.
The party leaders interviewed by the Times were concerned that Sanders would lose to Trump in the general election and hurt down ballot races in swing states, the newspaper reported.
CNN reported Thursday that vulnerable House members are growing fearful that the Vermont senator will cost them their seats in the general election in the fall if he’s the nominee at the top of the ticket.
The Times reported that Democrats have suggested to Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, who decided against running for president, to fight for the nomination at a brokered convention or urged former President Barack Obama to negotiate a truce.
Ahead of the critical Super Tuesday contests, Sanders is leading in the delegate count over the seven other Democratic candidates still in the race. Sanders has argued that the candidate with the most delegates, if they can’t achieve a majority, should be declared the nominee – a different stance from 2016.
Facing off against Hillary Clinton in the 2016 primary, Sanders railed against the superdelegate process and encouraged them to consider swinging the contest in his favor. Clinton went on to win a majority of superdelegates and clinch the nomination.
During a CNN town hall on Wednesday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren said she’d be ready for a convention floor battle if none of the Democratic candidates reaches a delegate majority during the primaries.
She argued that Sanders can’t change the rules, “now that he thinks there’s an advantage for him.”
Ahead of the critical Super Tuesday contests, Sanders is leading in the delegate count over the seven other Democratic candidates still in the race.
Previously, superdelegates were able to vote on the first ballot for the party’s presidential nominee, backing whichever candidate for the nomination they chose.
Under current party rules, which were changed in 2018, only pledged delegates would vote on the first ballot.
The last Democratic convention to go beyond the first ballot was in 1952.
CNN’s Adam Levy, Gregory Krieg and Kate Sullivan contributed to this report.