I mean, I guess they could hold off until after the votes are counted in South Carolina, in case they’re worried about endorsing Joe Biden and then watching him face-plant in his must-win state.
But they’d certainly need to endorse ASAP after a Biden win to maximize the propulsive effect before Super Tuesday.
It’s a lot to ask of Schumer to endorse one of Sanders’s opponents. There are two other members of his Senate caucus still technically in the race and hoping to be the nominee, after all. How can he possibly choose among them? Even if Warren and Klobuchar dropped out tomorrow, how could he knife Bernie by backing Joe Biden? He and Sanders have been serving in Congress today since 1991, first in the House and then later in the Senate. Imagine that relationship going forward if Schumer leaped into the fray at the moment Bernie was poised for a nomination-sealing win on Super Tuesday and blew up his path to victory with an endorsement.
I don’t think Schumer’s endorsement would matter, frankly. He’s not a big enough name notwithstanding his status as minority leader. Pelosi, on the other hand…
Democratic megadonor Bernard Schwartz has started reaching out to party leaders, particularly House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, to encourage them to back a candidate for president in order to stop the surge of Sen. Bernie Sanders…
“We should know who is the best person to beat Donald Trump, and with all due respect, Bernie Sanders cannot beat Trump,” he explained, describing the message he has relayed to the two Democratic leaders.
Schwartz noted he has yet to hear back from them but insisted that, with Super Tuesday under a week away, party leaders have to take a stand now before Sanders captures the nomination — and, in his view, takes down the party.
“They have good political reasons not to endorse until the primary is over, but I think we are losing too much if we give up on this position,” he added.
He donated $3 million to Democrats for the midterms and has already kicked in $1.5 million to House and Senate election operations this year. A guy like that is used to having his phone calls returned. The fact that Pelosi and Schumer are ducking him is proof of how reluctant they are to get involved here.
What about Nancy, though? Could she get away with endorsing Biden? She banked a little goodwill with lefties already this year by following through on impeachment, which would help the soften the blow to them if she supported Joe. She rules her caucus with an iron fist so she wouldn’t need to worry about a progressive insurrection to oust her as Speaker. House Dems wouldn’t do that in an election year anyway, and she’s already promised that the next term will be her last as Speaker if Democrats hold the majority. Unlike Schumer, her endorsement might mean something to Biden — not just in itself, as she’s currently the most powerful Democratic politician in the country, but in how it might encourage other Dems who’ve been lying low to speak up on Biden’s behalf. The odds of Biden roaring into Super Tuesday and spoiling the Sanders coronation are long but a surge of splashy endorsements combined with a big win in South Carolina would make it interesting. If Barack Obama’s not willing to wade into the primary on his behalf, how about Michelle?
And don’t forget where Pelosi’s from. The biggest prize on the board next Tuesday is California. An endorsement from her might matter even more there than elsewhere.
There are reasons for her to hold off too, though. Trying to foil Bernie will make enemies of some of the progressives in her caucus, who’ll resent that she’s picking sides. Biden remains a longshot to win even if he pulls it off in South Carolina this weekend, and politicians perceived as powerful and influential don’t like to complicate that perception by wasting their political capital on likely losers. Bernie’s far enough ahead in California at the moment, in fact, that a Pelosi endorsement likely wouldn’t do much of anything to stop him there. Plus, there’s the small matter of one of the Democrats’ biggest donors being an actual candidate in this race: Schwartz’s $3 million contribution to the 2018 midterms was nice but Mike Bloomberg dropped $41 million on 24 House races that year, all but three of which were won by Democrats. Imagine Pelosi going all-in on Biden at the very moment Mayor Mike is hoping to make a splash on Super Tuesday himself. What might happen to Bloomberg’s donations to Democratic House members this fall?
For the moment, she’s *publicly* fine with the idea of a Sanders nomination, as is Schumer:
“Yes,” Pelosi responded as she left a closed-door meeting in the House when asked whether she would be comfortable with the self-described democratic socialist leading the ticket.
“I think whoever our nominee is, we will enthusiastically embrace and we will win the White House, the Senate and the House,” the California congresswoman added…
“We have a lot of strong nominees,” Schumer said. “I’m not supporting one over the other, but I think every one of them will beat President Trump.”
They’re lying through their teeth, of course. Even if Bernie beats Trump, there’s no question that his nomination will make things awkward for House and Senate Democrats running in purple jurisdictions. But the cost of intervening in the primary is higher to Democratic leaders — right now, at least — than the cost of inaction, it seems.
And there *is* a cost of inaction, even apart from the electoral stakes. Politico is reporting today that House Republicans, led by Cuban-American Mario Diaz-Balart, will try to force a procedural vote this week on a resolution condemning Sanders for his praise of Castro’s literacy efforts. I wonder if Pelosi will table that somehow or if she’ll try to amend the resolution with something condemning Trump’s various bon mots about authoritarian regimes over the years. “Whose nominee has the bigger, more embarrassing weak spot for despots?” will be a fun game to watch the parties play over the next seven months.