Biden campaign seeks to let Sanders keep his delegates in unusual move
Joe Biden is allowing Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to keep the delegates his presidential campaign has won thus far as the former vice president works to avoid dividing the Democratic Party’s base.
Sanders, who suspended his presidential campaign last week, would normally be forced to forfeit a third of the delegates he’s garnered to Biden under a strict interpretation of Democratic Party rules.
However, behind-the-scenes negotiations have been ongoing between the Biden and Sanders campaigns to allow the Vermont lawmaker to keep his delegates as a gesture of goodwill, though it is still not settled how many Sanders would be able to keep.
“We feel strongly that it is in the best interest of the party to ensure that the Sanders campaign receives statewide delegates to reflect the work that they have done to contribute to the movement that will beat Donald Trump this fall,” a Biden official told The Hill. “We are in discussion with them now on how to best accomplish that.”
The news was first reported by The Associated Press.
The number of delegates each candidate has is ultimately inconsequential for the nomination, as Biden has essentially locked up his spot atop the Democratic 2020 ticket. However, Sanders has said he will remain on upcoming primary ballots to garner more delegates who can ultimately sway the party’s platform during the summer’s convention.
Biden is also eager to try to unite the Democratic Party base around his White House bid and try to avoid the vicious divides that plagued Hillary Clinton in 2016. Sanders delegates infamously booed some speakers during mentions of Clinton at that year’s convention, an embarrassing optic the former vice president is hopeful he can avoid.
Biden will technically need to garner 1,991 delegates to clinch the nomination, and leads Sanders by more than 300 delegates.
Candidates’ total delegate hauls are split between those allocated by congressional district and those based on statewide results. To keep the statewide delegates, candidates must still be running for president when the people who will represent them at the convention are selected by states.
Most states have yet to select the people who will attend the convention as delegates.
Under the rules, Biden would normally get 346 of the delegates won by Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). Sanders’s delegate count would drop to 628, according to an AP analysis.