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Reid pushes back on Sanders suggestion that a Democrat with plurality of delegates should be the nominee

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidBottom Line Biden owes us an answer on court-packing Progressive group: Feinstein must step down as top Democrat on Judiciary panel MORE (D-Nev.) on Thursday said that the Democratic presidential candidate who has a plurality — but not the majority — of pledged delegates coming into the Democratic National Convention in July shouldn't automatically win the party's nomination for president.

"Here is how I feel about this: I do not think that anybody — Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Goldman Sachs - Tipping point week for Trump, Biden, Congress, voters Biden and Schumer face battles with left if Democrats win big Push to expand Supreme Court faces Democratic buzzsaw MORE or anyone else — should simply get the nomination because they have 30 percent of the delegates and no one else has that many," the longtime senator told The Washington Post.

Continuing, Reid said: “Let’s say that he has 35 percent. Well, 65 percent he doesn’t have, or that person doesn’t have. I think that we have to let the system work its way out. I do not believe anyone should get the nomination unless they have 50-[percent]-plus-one.”

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Wednesday night's debate in Las Vegas featured six candidates, none of whom have shown any signs that their campaign will stop operations before Super Tuesday on March 3. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is thought to be the favorite for Saturday's Nevada caucuses, and a win in Nevada would give the Vermont senator two outright wins and one virtual tie, in Iowa with former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegButtigieg says it's time to 'turn the page' on Trump administration Sunday shows preview: Coronavirus cases surge in the Midwest; Trump hits campaign trail after COVID-19 Biden town hall questioner worked as speechwriter in Obama administration: report MORE.

This momentum could carry with Sanders through Super Tuesday and give him a plurality of pledged delegates come convention time.

But to win the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination outright, a candidate needs a majority of pledged delegates, 1,991. That number could prove difficult to reach this year because of a new rule by the Democratic National Committee and a still-crowded primary field.

Previously, superdelegates — senior or former Democratic leaders, including former presidents and lawmakers — were able to vote on the first ballot at the convention, allowing candidates who had a plurality of delegates to capture the nomination on the first ballot. Superdelegates are now ineligible to vote until the second ballot.

Without a majority of delegates, the convention would become brokered and move to a second ballot. The last brokered convention for both parties was in 1952, when Adlai Stevenson received the Democratic nomination and Dwight Eisenhower the Republican nomination.