“It’s probably the single biggest variable outside of my control,” said Cal Cunningham, who is backed by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in a tough primary here in this battleground state.
Cunningham said he would “assume” he’ll support the party’s presidential nominee. But as he preps for a fight against first-term GOP Sen. Sen. Thom Tillis, he’s also already moving to separate himself from some of the policies of leading contenders like Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Cunningham doesn’t support “Medicare for All” because it “would compromise 158 million peoples’ health insurance” and doesn’t explicitly back the Green New Deal to combat climate change.
“Certainly, a Biden, a more moderate candidate, makes the path a little bit easier,” said Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent and a Biden supporter. “And others would make it more narrow.”
“If Democrats nominate Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders, people are going to say: ‘I may not be the president’s biggest fan, but I don’t want any of that,’” said a Republican senator up for reelection next year.
That’s what the center-left argues, too.
“Moderate Senate candidates would prefer to run with a presidential nominee at the top of the ticket who supports the same health care, tax and environmental policy that they do,” said Jon Kott, a former Joe Manchin aide who runs a new group called Majority Makers to help centrist Democrats. Otherwise, they’ll need “to demonstrate their independence from the national political party.”