Democratic establishment starts to gang up on Sanders – The Hill


Democratic lawmakers on both sides of the Capitol are turning their fire on Bernie Sanders as he marches toward a big win in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary.

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), a supporter of Hillary Clinton, warned that Sanders could drag down Democratic candidates running for the House and Senate if he wins the nomination.

“I believe it could have real serious down-ballot consequences,” Connolly told The Hill.

Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.), who is one of the biggest Republican targets in the 2016 election cycle, suggested his constituents would view Sanders, a self-described Democratic socialist, as too extreme.

“I’m not comfortable with it at all,” Peters, who has endorsed Clinton, said of the prospect of Sanders heading the ticket.

“He certainly wouldn’t match my district very well,” Peters added. “People in my district are looking for pragmatic, problem-solving leaders and he would not fit that bill. Some on the Republican side, I think, would be equally objectionable to my district as well.”

Other pro-Clinton Democrats dismiss Sanders’s leadership credentials, with that criticism coming even from members of the clubby Senate. Sanders is a great advocate, those Democrats say, but not nearly as qualified as Clinton to serve as commander in chief.

“Bernie has been here for 25 years. Lots and lots of people in Congress know Bernie well. We like Bernie, we admire Bernie. But of the almost 200 members of Congress who are Democrats, I think two of them have endorsed Bernie Sanders,” said Sen. Claire McClaskill (D-Mo.), a Clinton booster.

“This is about leadership. It’s about who can bring people together and accomplish the things we all want.

McCaskill said congressional Democrats don’t have much faith in Sanders’s ability to get things done if elected president “because he’s not been able to move the needle in 25 years in Congress.”

Such comments have generated strong pushback from Sanders allies on Capitol Hill, who accuse their Democratic colleagues of using scare tactics.

“Campaign operatives of hers and some surrogates continue to promote the attitude that we should be dismissive. That it can’t be done. That he’s no qualified,” said Rep. Raúl Grijalva, who has endorsed Sanders.

He said McCaskill’s approach “evokes the ghost of [former Wisconsin Sen. Joseph] McCarthy [R].”

“It’s red-baiting and you’ll probably see more of that unfortunately, but I don’t think it’s going to stick.”

Grijalva and Rep. Keith Ellison (Minn.) are the only two Democrats in Congress to have endorsed Sanders. They are the co-chairmen of the Progressive Caucus.

Clinton, meanwhile, has won the support of 150 out of 188 House Democrats and 39 out of 46 Senate Democrats, according to a tally kept by The Hill.

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