New York canceled its Democratic primary today because of concerns about the coronavirus:
New York election officials took the unprecedented step on Monday of canceling the state’s Democratic presidential primary to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Democratic commissioners of the State Board of Elections approved a resolution that removed 10 candidates from the primary ballot who had publicly stated they were suspending their campaigns. That included U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose campaign said Sunday that it would like the primary to move forward. The primary was scheduled for June 23.
The GOP primary in New York was canceled in March when it became clear that Trump would be the only person on the ballot. But the Sanders campaign reacted strongly to the cancelation. Campaign adviser Jeff Weaver released a statement calling it a “an outrage, a blow to American democracy.” Weaver also included a reference to a popular democratic conspiracy theory that President Trump plans to cancel the 2020 election: “Just last week Vice President Biden warned the American people that President Trump could use the current crisis as an excuse to postpone the November election. Well he now has a precedent thanks to New York state.” Here’s the full statement:
Our campaign statement on the New York State Board of Elections decision to cancel the state’s presidential primary: pic.twitter.com/BzylNaqCaS
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) April 27, 2020
Last month Biden was asked about this by late-night host Jimmy Kimmel. I tried to track down the source of this unfounded rumor and found it went back to a NY Times column and before that a story at Buzzfeed which cited concern among liberals on Twitter (in early March) that President Trump might attempt this. One thread in particular, which suggested Trump might postpone the election, went viral in early February before the coronavirus was on most people’s radar.
As the Sanders’ campaign statement above points out, Biden himself brought this up again just a few days ago. Curiously, the media firefighters who are always eager to pounce on right-wing conspiracies, have been exceedingly tolerant of this burgeoning left-wing conspiracy.
As for the cancellation of the New York primary, the Sanders campaign was aware this was coming and argued against the decision:
In a Sunday letter, a lawyer for the Sanders campaign asked the commissioners not to cancel the primary.
“Senator Sanders has collaborated with state parties, the national party and the Biden campaign, to strengthen the Democrats by aligning the party’s progressive and moderate wings. His removal from the ballot would hamper those efforts, to the detriment of the party in the general election,” wrote the lawyer, Malcolm Seymour.
Personally, I suspect there could be more going on here than generalized concern about the process. The Sanders campaign is well aware that Joe Biden is now under the gun because of sexual assault allegations by Tara Reade. This weekend the hashtag #DropOutBiden was trending on Twitter and while she didn’t adopt the hashtag, Bernie’s former spokesperson was pointing out that there was still a way to remedy the “mistake” of selecting Biden.
The Democratic Party effectively chose Biden as its candidate when it coerced competing moderates to drop out following SC.
Now it can choose to remedy that mistake, but it would have to put the interests of the people before corporate donors. https://t.co/mJwlW9B6Sh
— Briahna Joy Gray (@briebriejoy) April 24, 2020
It's a good time to note that Bernie's on the ballot.
— Briahna Joy Gray (@briebriejoy) April 25, 2020
So the Bernie people are well aware of what is happening to the Biden campaign right now and they are well aware that Bernie is the most credible alternative given his 2nd place finish overall. Canceling the New York primary makes it harder to allow Democrats to have a change of heart which might give Bernie some kind of opening to return to the field. Instead this decision just seals the conclusion that this is over. Maybe it was already too late for that but I suspect based on the news today you’re going to hear from a lot more Democrats wondering if there isn’t some way to reverse course.