In Defying the Odds, we discuss the Sanders candidacy and the liberal drift of the Democratic Party.
Many Democrats are concerned that Sanders no longer has any control over the vast political network surrounding him after his 2016 campaign manager Jeff Weaver left the helm of Our Revolution in June. That national political organization, Sanders' post-campaign creation, is now led by former Ohio State Senator Nina Turner, who was a strident supporter of the Vermonter and a Clinton critic in 2016.
Last month, Democrats across Capitol Hill were quick to circulate a BuzzFeed report in which Turner called the DNC “dictatorial” and “insulting.” They were concerned that a group with the reach of Our Revolution’s could be doing significant damage to the party’s efforts to re-engage with Sanders voters.
Just as Turner was complaining about the DNC, a range of Democratic senators and their top political staffers were closely following a string of stories that quoted Sanders supporters criticizing [Kamala] Harris.[!]
In one interview, the co-founder of a group called People for Bernie said Harris was being anointed as the candidate "of extremely wealthy and out-of-touch Democratic Party donors."
At no point was this worry more apparent than after the leaders of the National Nurses Union refused last month to rule out supporting primary challenges for Senate Democrats who don’t support his Medicare-for-all health care bill. The group, one of Sanders' closest allies, vowed to “[hold] the Democrats accountable.”
Sanders’ own campaign pollster called the measure a litmus test in the same POLITICO report. And Turner — whose group houses the huge email list Sanders’ team built during his campaign and subsequently refused to hand over to the DNC — said “there’s something wrong” with Democrats who don’t support Sanders’ measure.
Yet it took three weeks for Sanders himself to weigh in. He told the Washington Post that his health care legislation wouldn’t serve as a litmus test for whether or not to back fellow senators. It was hardly a disavowal of his allies’ rhetoric, though, and the delay left other lawmakers sweating about primary challenges for nearly a month.