When it was an option between Vermont Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democrat establishment got behind Biden. It was the second time that they worked to keep Sanders in second place in the presidential sweepstakes.
It was not, however, an unqualified joyful choice. Biden has his problems and his baggage. Now that Biden has surfaced as the likely Democrat presidential nominee, many Democrats are wincing. While they cheer him on publicly they have deep reservations privately as to whether he has the stuff to beat Trump. Many Democrats believe he does not.
The outbreak of the Coronavirus in America may have produced a new champion for the Democrat establishment – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. His daily press conferences and interviews have cast him in the fore of public attention.
Contrary to Trump – and to draw a partisan comparison with Trump – the media is effusive in its praise of Cuomo – even though his and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s earlier polices arguably resulted in the high number of Coronavirus cases in New York City. You may recall that up until a week or so ago, de Blasio was telling New Yorkers to go about their business as usual. He was even slow to close the schools.
But criticizing Cuomo and de Blasio does not fit the media’s anti-Trump narrative. The fawning media is now calling Cuomo “America’s Governor” – much like Rudy Giuliani was dubbed “America’s Mayor” after the 9/11 attack on New York City.
This has led to speculation among Democrats in the public sphere – and even strategizing behind closed doors – that Cuomo would be a great replacement for Biden. In theory that makes sense, but how can the old guard make that happen?
The surest way is to pressure Biden to step aside, but that is not easy. With the nomination within his grasp, why would Biden lateral it off to Cuomo?
The more complicated way is for Cuomo to enter the race and snatch enough of the delegates within reach of Biden to force a brokered convention. The last time that happened was in 1968 when then-Vice President Hubert Humphrey won the presidential nomination even though he skipped most of the primaries.
Here is how it would work.
On the first ballot, Biden falls a bit short of the prerequisite number of delegates to secure the nomination. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders comes in a strong second. In that vote, Cuomo would be way down there with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and the others who picked up a piddly number of delegates.
In the second ballot, Cuomo starts to move up significantly. He would get the lion’s share of the 775 super delegates. He would pick up some delegates from the also-rans who have no chance of rising from the lower ranks. He could take a huge bite out of the Biden delegation. Cuomo could – just could – win the nomination on the second round. If not, his momentum would carry him over the top on a third ballot. By that time, Cuomo could even have the endorsement of the declining Biden.
It is not impossible for Biden to win on a second ballot. It all depends on how many super delegates and other delegates he can gain without losing any of his. But clearly, the momentum would be with Cuomo.
While there is speculation in the field, a critical issue is when does Cuomo accept a draft and declare his intention to run? It could be political suicide to announce his candidacy for President of the United States while his state is in the midst of the Coronavirus crisis.
This makes it almost impossible to get on any primary ballot – and even run an effective write-in campaign. The Democratic National Committee rules also work against him. Would he start fundraising while people are dying in New York? With a net worth in the $5 million range, he can hardly self-fund. It may just be too late for Cuomo to make the move.
But what if he does and can prevent Biden from clinching the nomination before the convention in Milwaukee? The scenario above has one HUGE problem for the Democrats. It is called Bernie Sanders.
Sanders’ supporters are not traditional Democrats devoted to the party. They are Bernie folks – dedicated to him personally. Many stayed home in 2016 because of how Hillary Clinton got the nomination – and a goodly number cast revenge ballots for Trump.
If Biden falls short of the nomination before the convention, Sanders and his supporters are going to be in the fight. In their view, if it is not Biden – and that is bad enough – it damn well better be Sanders – the second most popular candidate according to the primary voters.
Biden was carried on the tide of the never-Sanders movement within the Democratic Party – as would be Cuomo. If Biden had to rely on the super delegates to get him over the top, Sanders’ revolutionaries would go berserk. Replacing Biden – who at least won his delegates in primaries – with Cuomo would increase their anger many times over. They already believe that the anybody-but-Sanders movement has produced a corrupt and rigged system against their candidate and his grassroots supporters.
If Cuomo enters the race, it does not matter if he takes the nomination or not His very presence in the race will create more havoc for the Democratic Party – and further reduce their chances of defeating Trump no matter who the candidate is.
So, there ‘tis.