Af­ter Ne­vada, moder­ates try to slow San­ders’ mo­men­tum

Times-Herald (Vallejo) - - NEWS - By Alexan­dra Jaffe and Meg Kin­nard

CHARLESTON, S.C. >> Bernie San­ders’ com­mand­ing Ne­vada cau­cus vic­tory made him a top target for his Demo­cratic ri­vals and a grow­ing source of anx­i­ety for es­tab­lish­ment Democrats wor­ried that the nom­i­na­tion of an avowed demo­cratic so­cial­ist could cost the party in Novem­ber.

The win so­lid­i­fied San­ders’ front-run­ner sta­tus as the race turned to Satur­day’s pres­i­den­tial pri­mary in South Carolina. The Ver­mont sen­a­tor was trounced in the state by more than 40 per­cent­age points in 2016, but he is hop­ing that his suc­cess in di­verse Ne­vada will prove to black voters in South Carolina that his cam­paign has broad ap­peal.

Any mo­men­tum that San­ders gains in South Carolina could be dev­as­tat­ing to for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den, who is look­ing to the state for a com­mand­ing vic­tory that can keep his can­di­dacy alive through Su­per Tues­day. The March 3 con­tests will un­fold in 14 states and award one-third of the del­e­gates needed for the Demo­cratic nom­i­na­tion.

With time run­ning short, mod­er­ate Democrats grew in­creas­ingly ner­vous Sun­day that San­ders’ call for a po­lit­i­cal “rev­o­lu­tion” would drive voters away from the party, both in the matchup against Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and in House and Se­nate races.

“I think it would be a real bur­den for us in these states or con­gres­sional dis­tricts that we have to do well in,” South Carolina Rep. Jim Cly­burn, the House ma­jor­ity whip and the top-rank­ing black Demo­crat in Congress, said Sun­day on ABC’s “This Week.”

Promi­nent Democrats ex­pect Cly­burn will en­dorse Bi­den this week. The con­gress­man said he’ll back a can­di­date on Wed­nes­day — af­ter the next Demo­cratic de­bate — and pointed to the im­pact a San­ders nom­i­na­tion would have on House dis­tricts Democrats flipped to take con­trol of the House in 2018.

“In those dis­tricts, it’s go­ing to be tough to hold on to these jobs if you have to make the case for ac­cept­ing a self-pro­claimed demo­cratic so­cial­ist,” he said.

San­ders’ cam­paign ar­gued he will bring in new and in­fre­quent voters — largely pro­gres­sives, young peo­ple and voters of color — who have been alien­ated from the process and seek a dras­tic over­haul of Washington, not merely try­ing to oust Trump.

He suc­cess­fully re­lied on that coali­tion Satur­day to dom­i­nate his Demo­cratic ri­vals in Ne­vada, pulling far ahead of Bi­den, the sec­ond­place fin­isher, and Pete But­tigieg, the for­mer mayor of South Bend, In­di­ana, who came in third. Mas­sachusetts Sen. El­iz­a­beth War­ren landed in fourth, while Min­nesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Cal­i­for­nia bil­lion­aire Tom Steyer were in a close race for fifth as the Ne­vada Demo­cratic Party con­tin­ued to tab­u­late re­sults.

San­ders cel­e­brated the win in Texas, a top Su­per Tues­day prize and a state that Democrats see trend­ing their way thanks to a grow­ing His­panic pop­u­la­tion and op­po­si­tion to Trump in the sub­urbs.

Sound­ing like a can­di­date who had al­ready se­cured the nom­i­na­tion, San­ders told thou­sands of cheer­ing sup­port­ers who filled a bas­ket­ball arena on the cam­pus of the Uni­ver­sity of Hous­ton that he would win in the state both next month and next fall.

“If work­ing peo­ple and young peo­ple of this city, black and white and Latino, gay or straight, if our peo­ple stand to­gether, come out to vote, we’re go­ing to win here in Texas,” he said.

San­ders was an­nounc­ing a plan to pro­vide uni­ver­sal, govern­ment-funded child care un­til age 3 and uni­ver­sal pre-kinder­garten pro­grams af­ter that. In an in­ter­view with “60 Min­utes” that aired Sun­day night, he said he’d pay for it us­ing part of the pro­ceeds from his pre­vi­ously an­nounced wealth tax, which would be levied an­nu­ally on for­tunes worth more than $32 mil­lion.

San­ders’ new sta­tus was clear as most of his ri­vals sharp­ened their focus on him.

On Sun­day, But­tigieg ripped San­ders’ for his mas­sive and of­ten com­bat­ive online fol­low­ing, say­ing the nom­i­nee’s job “is to call peo­ple into our tent, not to call them names online.”

Speak­ing to a crowd of thou­sands gath­ered in a high school foot­ball field in Ar­ling­ton, Vir­ginia, But­tigieg said Democrats should nom­i­nate some­one who will focus on “mo­bi­liz­ing, not po­lar­iz­ing the Amer­i­can ma­jor­ity.”

NICK WAG­NER — AUSTIN AMER­I­CAN-STATES­MAN

Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Sen. Bernie San­ders, I-Vt., speaks at a cam­paign event in Austin, Texas.

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