Bernie Sanders faces questions about political future

NEW YORK — Allies of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders are rallying behind the embattled presidential prospect, even as they reluctantly begin to ponder a painful possibility: a 2020 presidential field without him.

The 77-year-old self-described democratic socialist is the most prominent presidential contender to face a serious setback in the nascent 2020 campaign season. He’s been forced to confront a series of reports detailing allegations of sexual harassment of women by male staffers when he ran for president in 2016.

Sanders’ loyalists fully expect him to launch a second campaign in the coming weeks. And his broad network of die-hard supporters is hosting hundreds of events across the nation this weekend encouraging him to run.

But the persistent allegations put Sanders in an unenviable political position in the early days of a presidential contest playing out in a #MeToo era that’s offered little mercy for those associated with allegations of sexual harassment. While his Democratic competitors tour crucial states and scope out potential campaign headquarters, Sanders spent Thursday apologizing for the behaviour of a handful of his 2016 staffers and looking for a new ones to run his 2020 operation should he enter the race.

Some Sanders allies expressed shaken confidence in the political future of the man who has reshaped Democratic politics in recent years and almost single-handed brought liberal priorities like “Medicare for all” and free college education into the party’s mainstream.

“If he doesn’t run, there’s a massive void in this country,” said RoseAnn DeMoro, an activist and former executive director of the National Nurses United union, who reiterated her support for Sanders. “The passion in that base goes away. That base evaporates. It doesn’t go to someone else. There would be a void so deep it would go to (President Donald) Trump, I suspect.”

Politico reported Wednesday that in July 2016, a former senior adviser forcibly kissed a young female staffer after making sexually explicit comments. Sanders’ team said the adviser, who denies the allegation, would not be involved in a second campaign should there be one; and former campaign manager Jeff Weaver, who was aware of some of the incidents, would not serve as campaign manager again.

No one has alleged that Sanders had direct knowledge of the incidents.

“Obviously, it’s impacted all of us quite a bit. It’s very upsetting,” said Heather Gautney, executive director of Our Revolution, the political arm of Sanders’ network.

Despite her concern, Gautney warned Democrats that a 2020 contest without Sanders would inflict serious damage on ambitious plans to shake up health care, education, housing and other liberal priorities.

“Bernie is holding the flank on the left. If he doesn’t run for president, then the whole horizon shifts, and universal health care maybe gets taken off the table,” Gautney said. “In my view, he is an absolutely necessary part of our political system.”

Sanders may not be taken seriously by some in the political establishment, but he would be a force in the 2020 contest should he run. Having nearly beaten Hillary Clinton in the 2016 contest, he boasts an …read more

Source:: Nationalpost – News


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