by N. Peter Kramer
Senator Bernie Sanders won a convincing victory in Nevada’s caucuses, a boost for his Democratic presidential bid ahead of a potentially decisive series of primaries in 15 states over the next two weeks. His victory in the third nominating contest follows what was for him essentially a first-place tie in Iowa’s caucuses and a narrow win in New Hampshire’s primary.
Bernie Sanders’ win is a signal the Democratic Party is moving to embrace a greater role for government in the US economy. He also garnered strong support from Hispanics, it enhances his argument that he can build a diverse coalition of voters. ‘ In Nevada, we have just put together a multigeneration, multiracial coalition, which is going not only win in Nevada, it’s going to sweep this country,’ he said after the results came in.
After Nevada and next Saturday’s South Carolina primary comes Super Tuesday on March 3, when more than one-third of the total Democratic delegates to the national convention mid-July in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, will be at stake. Establishment Democrats worry that if senator Sanders has a strong showing in large Super Tuesday states like California, where polls have him ahead, he may become unstoppable. Their concern is that picking a self-described democratic socialist to compete against President Trump in the November election would carry considerable risk in a country that has traditionally embraced capitalism.
The missing Democratic presidential candidate in Nevada was former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the world’s 12th richest person. He didn’t compete in Nevada, New Hampshire or Iowa and is instead focusing hundreds of millions of dollars from his fortune on states that hold their contests in March. Wednesday last week he participated finally in one of the television debates between the Democratic candidates. He was the clear loser. He says, he is driven above all by his alarm over President Trump’s policies. But what does he think? The other candidates are not? For many Americans Bloomberg is an arrogant plutocrat who symbolises the US yawning social inequality, the arrogance of the C-suite and the grubby nature of big-money politics.
It will be a tough fight for Bloomberg. People didn’t forget he won his first term as NY Mayor as a Republican. And there are many questions over his record. In the debate last Wednesday, he came already under attack over allegations of sexist comments and behaviour towards ex-employees and associates; and the use of non-disclosure agreements with some of them. The heavy-handed stop-and-frisk policies as mayor may tarnish his appeal among black voters.
If Bloomberg continues to stumble as in the debate last week, he may find that a more productive strategy to stop Trump is to put his immense resources behind a more electable Democratic candidate.