Supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders bristled Friday at a new rule being proposed by the Democratic National Committee that would require Democrat presidential candidates to identify as a Democrat.
The move came during a meeting of the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee, which was meeting over the weekend in Providence, Rhode Island, Politico reported.
New of the proposed rule was tweeted by DNC member Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. Weingarten said Democrats “changed the rules to ensure to run for President as a Democrat you need to be A Democrat.”
“At the time a presidential candidate announces their candidacy publicly, they must publicly affirm that they are a Democrat,” the rule said, according to Yahoo News. “Each candidate pursuing the Democratic nomination shall affirm, in writing, to the National Chairperson of the Democratic National Committee that they: A. are a member of the Democratic Party; B. will accept the Democratic nomination; and C. will run and serve as a member of the Democratic Party.”
— Randi Weingarten (@rweingarten) June 8, 2018
Sanders is an independent who caucuses with the Democratic Party.
Mark Longabaugh, an adviser to Sanders’s 2016 campaign, said the move was clearly a shot across the bow of the liberal wing of the party, which Sanders championed, as well as the candidate himself.
“I don’t have any worries that Bernie Sanders could meet the criteria to run as a Democrat in 2020, but it always puzzles me that there are some Democrats who want to do this and promote this. I scratch my head and ask why they would want to make the party more narrow and more exclusive,” he said.
“We just came off a devastating presidential loss in 2016. It would seem to me the actual impetus would be to expand the Democratic Party. I just for the life of me don’t see any motivation for this beyond personal spite,” he added.
“I really don’t get the motivation for the resolution at all,” he said. “You know, Bernie Sanders got 13 million votes in 2016. Thousands, if not millions, of those votes were young people and independents he brought into the Democratic Party. And I’m just stunned that the Democratic Party’s rules committee would want to try to make the Democratic Party an exclusive club, for which we want to exclude voters and large segments of the American electorate.
“I just find it a stunning resolution,” he added.
Vermont’s Democratic Party insulated Sanders from just such a resolution in May, when it said Sanders would be considered a Democrat “for all purposes and entitled to all the rights and privileges that come with such membership at the state and federal level,” Politico reported.
In its reporting on the rule, Yahoo News said it was told by a source that the rule was a step toward curbing the power of superdelegates, those top Democrats who are given a vote without being elected through the party’s primaries.
Sanders has been outspoken about the need to curb their power.
“You had superdelegates voting for Hillary Clinton in states that I won pretty handsomely,” Sanders told The Washington Post this week. “And now there is agreement among Tom Perez and our people and a lot of the Clinton people to say we should reduce the number of superdelegates.”
Perez, who is the DNC’s chairman, has offered a new rule under which superdelegates would be required to sit out the first round of voting at the party’s convention, but can weigh in if no candidate gets a first-round nomination.
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