Biden and Sanders reach deal on delegates to national convention

Biden and Sanders reach deal on delegates to national convention
© Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenJoe Biden looks to expand election battleground into Trump country Trump puts Supreme Court fight at center of Ohio rally Special counsel investigating DeVos for potential Hatch Act violation: report MORE’s presidential campaign has reached a deal with Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersJacobin editor: Primarying Schumer would force him to fight Trump's SCOTUS nominee Trump campaign plays up Biden's skills ahead of Cleveland debate: 'He's actually quite good' Young voters backing Biden by 2:1 margin: poll MORE (I-Vt.) that will allow the progressive former White House hopeful to keep hundreds of delegates to the Democratic National Convention this summer. 

The deal is designed to give Sanders and his supporters a say at the nominating convention in August, despite his decision earlier this month to suspend his presidential campaign. It’s the latest move aimed at promoting party unity and avoiding a drawn out political fight like the one that emerged between Sanders and eventual nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonJoe Biden looks to expand election battleground into Trump country Biden leads Trump by 12 points among Catholic voters: poll The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden goes on offense MORE during the 2016 Democratic presidential primary.

The agreement was outlined in a joint memo from the Biden and Sanders teams sent to state Democratic parties on Thursday.


“While Senator Sanders is no longer actively seeking the nomination, the Biden campaign feels strongly that it is in the best interest of the party and the effort to defeat Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpBubba Wallace to be driver of Michael Jordan, Denny Hamlin NASCAR team Graham: GOP will confirm Trump's Supreme Court nominee before the election Southwest Airlines, unions call for six-month extension of government aid MORE in November to come to an agreement regarding these issues that will ensure representation of Sanders supporters and delegate candidates, both on the floor and in committees,” the memo reads. 

Party rules say that Sanders should lose about a third of the delegates he amassed from the primaries and caucuses because he is no longer running for the nomination. 

Under the deal struck by the two teams, statewide and at-large delegates, which make up about a third of the total delegate count, will be allocated to Biden in order to comply with party rules.

But Biden’s campaign will work with Sanders’s team to fill those slots with “supporters of the Biden and Sanders campaigns based on the candidates’ respective statewide results (regardless of the status of Senator Sanders’s campaign),” according to the memo. 

“We must defeat Donald Trump this fall, and we believe that this agreement will help bring the party together to get Trump out of the White House and not only rebuild America, but transform it,” the memo reads. 


In announcing this month that he would suspend his campaign, Sanders said that he would stay on the ballot in the remaining primary states in an effort to amass as many delegates as possible, a move intended to give his wing of the party more influence at the national convention this summer.

The delegate count matters little for nominating purposes. Biden is the only remaining candidate in the primary race and has been endorsed by all of his former top rivals, including Sanders.

But the deal allowing Sanders to hold on to his state and at-large delegates heading into the convention essentially gives the Vermont senator and his progressive allies more influence in key committees that, among other things, help draft the party’s platform. 

The memo issued on Thursday also includes a plan for how to deal with delegates from New York state, which canceled its June 23 presidential primary this week amid concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.

If the Democratic National Committee declines to strip New York of its delegates — party rules allow the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee to penalize states with delegate reductions for moving or canceling their nominating contests — “the campaigns are committed to working together to ensure representation for Senator Sanders in the New York delegation,” the memo says. 

“Our campaigns are grateful for the unity and spirit of collaboration within the Democratic Party as we look to defeat Donald Trump and establish a government by and for the American people,” the memo reads. “We look forward to working with the state parties to implement this approach, as we elect delegates who reflect and represent the diversity that is the unique strength of our great nation.”