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- Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign on Wednesday after lagging behind former Vice President Joe Biden in several recent contests.
- However, Sanders said he would remain on the ballot in upcoming primaries to continue accruing national delegates, even though Biden was now the presumptive nominee.
- Entering the DNC in August with as many national delegates as possible could give Sanders leverage to influence the party’s platform and the next convention.
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Bernie Sanders announced the suspension of his presidential campaign on Wednesday, but the Vermont Senator’s not done with the Democratic party yet.
Though his decision clears the way for former vice president Joe Biden to become the presumptive Democratic nominee, Sanders declared that he would remain on the ballot in upcoming primary states and continue to collect national delegates, with the intention of arriving at the Democratic National Convention wielding enough power to influence the party’s platform. The strategy could ensure that even if Sanders’ name is not at the top of the Democratic ticket in November, his policy priorities would still prevail and have influence for years to come.
“Today I congratulate Joe Biden, a very decent man, who I will work with to move our progressive ideas forward,” Sanders said in a live stream for supporters on Wednesday.
He then pledged, “I will stay on the ballot in all remaining states and continue to gather delegates.”
“While Vice President Biden will be the nominee, we must continue working to assemble as many delegates as possible at the Democratic Convention, where we will be able to exert significant influence over the party platform, and other functions,” Sanders said.
Why Sander’s strategy matters for the convention – and beyond
Sanders might not be the Democratic nominee for 2020, but he can still influence the party’s agenda by racking up as many delegates as possible heading into the convention. On Wednesday, he made no attempt to hide his intention to do so.
A total of 21 states, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have yet to hold their Democratic presidential primary or causes, and 15 of these states had moved their primary date because of concerns voting could not safely take place due to the coronavirus.
The DNC, which takes place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin this year, has been rescheduled to the week of August 17 to do concerns about the novel coronavirus.
The convention’s purpose isn’t just to officially choose a presidential ticket. At the national convention, the party also codifies its official platform and sets rules for the next convention.
To do so, the DNC establishes standing committees on party platforms, rules, and credentials. Each committee must consist of 162 members, and each committee’s membership is allocated proportionally by how many national delegates a candidate received during the primary.
Therefore, Sanders’ performance in the national delegate race will influence how many of his supporters will wind up on these critical committees. If he were to win enough delegates to proportionally receive 81 members on each committee, for instance, he would have a majority. He won’t, but getting close to that number – or ensuring that the establishment wing doesn’t get much more than that number – gives his wing of the party a tactical advantage while advocating for their policies and the contours of the 2024 or 2028 primary.
One of the most critical bodies in this process is the platform committee, which is responsible for drafting and recommending the official party platform to the Democratic National Convention.
In his concession speech, Sanders said he would continue to fight for progressive proposals at the core of his campaign campaign, including an overhaul of the America’s healthcare and criminal justice systems, and protections for unemployed people and blue collar workers.
Having a strong presence on the platform committee could enable Sanders to enshrine at least some of these priorities into the official party platform.
“I ran for the presidency because I believe that as a president, I could accelerate and institutionalize the progressive changes that we are all building together,” Sanders said near the end of his concession speech. “And if we keep organizing and fighting, I have no doubt that that is exactly what will happen.
“While the path may be slower,” he continued, “Now, we will change this nation, and with like minded friends around the globe, change the entire world.”
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