Newsflash:
Campaigns Bernie Run as a Democrat Iowans start effort to draft Bernie Sanders for 2016
Thursday, 24 July 2014 00:27

Iowans start effort to draft Bernie Sanders for 2016

Written by  Jarrad Saffren | USA TODAY
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, has not ruled out the possibility of running for president in 2016. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, has not ruled out the possibility of running for president in 2016. Jack Gruber, USA TODAY

A small group of progressive activists will meet Tuesday to form a "Draft Bernie Sanders for President" steering committee in Johnson County, Iowa, to persuade the Vermont senator to run as a Democrat in the 2016 Iowa caucuses.

The seven members of the Johnson County committee will meet with two leaders of the Progressive Democrats of America to discuss the Iowa campaign and a possible national campaign. PDA does have a national "Draft Bernie" petition that has collected 13,000 signatures since April. Sanders has told multiple media outlets that he is considering a White House run. The senator also spoke in Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two primary hosts, in May and has another Iowa visit scheduled for September.

"The question is can we engage working people in a grass-roots political revolution?" said Sanders in an interview with NPR's On Point Monday. "If the answer is yes I think I will run. If the answer is no I probably won't."

Jeff Cox, the former Johnson County Democratic chairman who is organizing the Draft Sanders effort, said residents gave similar responses to a potential Sanders campaign when he collected "Draft Bernie" signatures outside of local supermarkets.

"People don't really like Hillary Clinton that much," said Cox. "They only support her because they view her as inevitable. They want someone on the left to challenge her."

Cox said some Johnson County residents have expressed concerns about the possibility of Sanders running for president as an independent.

"They don't want a Nader situation where he (Sanders) steals votes from the Democrat and it (the general election) goes to the Republican," said Cox, referring to the 2000 presidential election when Green Party candidate Ralph Nader took nearly 3 million votes in the closest presidential election in history.

This is why the Iowa activists say they will only campaign for Sanders as a Democrat.

Paul Street, a committee member and left-wing author, thinks Sanders will have support outside Johnson County, but only in the areas like Iowa City, Ames and Cedar Rapids where left-wing candidates have made inroads in previous Iowa caucuses.

If Sanders polls well in those areas, Street thinks the committee will set up branches outside Iowa, starting with the nation's first primary.

"New Hampshire would be next and then who knows," said Street. "The campaign starts so much earlier in New Hampshire and Iowa."

Sanders, who has described himself as a democratic socialist, became a hero of the left in December 2010 when he spoke for eight hours on the Senate floor in opposition to a tax bill that he said was loaded with tax breaks for the rich.

Link to the original article from USA Today.

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