Wednesday, February 20, 2019

#InvisiblePrimary: Visible -- Is Bernie Sanders a Democrat Under the 2020 Democratic Rules?

Thoughts on the invisible primary and links to the movements during the day that was...

The answer is yes.

But since Sanders has now thrown his hat in the 2020 Democratic ring, since the rules have changed a bit since 2016, and since this keeps coming up on the areas of social media still relitigating the 2016 Democratic primary (and with greater frequency on Sander 2020, day one), FHQ will weigh in on the matter.

But FHQ will weigh in with the goal of ultimately posing another, perhaps, more important question.

However, before that, let's first lay out what both the 2020 Democratic Delegate Selection Rules (Rule 13.K.1) and the Call for the 2020 Democratic National Convention (Section VI) say about who the party views as an eligible candidate for its nomination.

Both offer discretion to the DNC chair to determine who is a "bona fide Democrat" and an overlapping definition of what that means. Basically, a Democrat in the eyes of the Democratic National Committee is someone "whose record of public service, accomplishment, public writings and/or public statements affirmatively demonstrates that the candidate is faithful to the interests, welfare, and success of the Democratic Party of the United States."

The Call also adds that a candidate must affirm in writing that they are a member of the Democratic Party (something that does not require registration with the party), will accept the party's nomination, and run and serve as a member of the party.

[The candidate affirmation form can be found in Appendix E of the Call.]

All of this is the same basic framework Sanders and the DNC agreed to during the 2016 cycle. But it has now been formally added to the nomination rules of the party. If Sanders qualified in 2016, then he will qualify for 2020.

One member of the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee placed some emphasis on the timing of the affirmation; that it is to happen upon the public announcement of candidacy. That is a fair point, but it raises a different question: Have any of the announced candidates followed this newly codified protocol and signed the affirmation form?

The answer is no. Sanders may be under the spotlight, but he is not the only candidate who has to submit the form. And none have done so as of yet because the DNC has yet to distribute the forms to the various announced campaigns. That will happen at a meeting the DNC has set up for next week.

But the initial question should be put to rest. Sanders is a Democrat under the new rules.

Elsewhere in the invisible primary...

1. #StaffPrimary: Sanders adds a campaign manager.

2. #MoneyPrimary: The Vermont senator also had a productive first 24 hours on the fundraising front.

3. #EndorsementPrimary: And although the fundraising was a bigger signal, Sanders was able to point to a handful of meaningful endorsements on day one. Patrick Leahy was among them. The senior Vermont senator brings Sanders Senate endorsement total to one, the same number he had in all of the 2016 cycle. [Note: Sanders already had the support of Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA).] While that continues the trend of primarily home state support for the announced candidates, it is not the show of force a candidate returning for round two might otherwise want in an attempt at unifying the party behind him.

4. Gov. Baker (R-MA) is not yet ready to line up behind Weld 2020.

5. Delaney keeps plugging away in Iowa, opening a field office in Waterloo.

6. Sure, Biden leads in a South Carolina poll (and one in New Hampshire too), but at what point do we stop saying either 1) this is a reflection of name recognition and/or 2) state polls are largely reflecting national polls at this point? Not yet.

Has FHQ missed something you feel should be included? Drop us a line or a comment and we'll make room for it.

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