Sanders, Warren battle for progressive endorsements

Sanders, Warren battle for progressive endorsements
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With the Iowa caucuses around the corner, progressive presidential hopefuls Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersGloves come off as Democrats fight for House seat in California Senate Democrats pump brakes on new stimulus checks The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Unemployment claims now at 41 million with 2.1 million more added to rolls; Topeka mayor says cities don't have enough tests for minorities and homeless communities MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenCOVID-19 workplace complaints surge; unions rip administration Gloves come off as Democrats fight for House seat in California Police killing in Minneapolis puts new scrutiny on Biden pick MORE (D-Mass.) aren’t just clashing on the campaign trail — they’re also scrapping for endorsements on Capitol Hill.

House Democrats in the Congressional Progressive Caucus said the race for presidential endorsements has kicked into high gear in the closing weeks before the Feb. 4 Iowa caucuses.

Many downplay the significance of political endorsements, but campaigns see them as a way to show momentum and boost fundraising as the first voters in the nation prepare to head to the polls.

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“It's crunch time,” said one undecided progressive freshman Democrat, who was heavily lobbied by both the Sanders and Warren camps this past week. “I've heard more about endorsing presidential candidates in the last three days than I've heard in the last three months.” 

Just as polls show progressive voters are divided between Sanders and Warren, so is the nearly 100-member Progressive Caucus. Both progressive rock stars have attracted high-profile endorsements in the CPC in recent days and weeks. 

Warren’s endorsements include Rep. Joaquin CastroJoaquin CastroJulián Castro launches PAC to support progressive candidates Minority lawmakers gain unprecedented clout amid pandemic The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden leads Trump by 6 points in new poll MORE (D-Texas), brother of Julián Castro who backed Warren after dropping out of the presidential race this month; Rep. Katherine ClarkKatherine Marlea ClarkGun control group rolls out House endorsements Pelosi scrambles to secure quick passage of coronavirus aid Democrat says House vote on trillion aid deal could fall to Friday MORE (D-Mass.), a member of Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiMinneapolis erupts for third night, as protests spread, Trump vows retaliation The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - George Floyd's death sparks protests, National Guard activation Hillicon Valley: Trump signs order targeting social media legal protections | House requests conference with Senate after FISA vote canceled | Minneapolis systems temporarily brought down by hackers MORE’s (D-Calif.) leadership team; several female freshman lawmakers; and Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), a former Progressive Caucus co-chairman who now heads the Natural Resources Committee. 

Liberal Rep. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinHouse holds first-ever proxy votes during pandemic Dozens of Democrats plan to vote remotely in a first for the House House members race to prepare for first-ever remote votes MORE (D-Md.), a constitutional law professor who’s emerged as a leading critic of President TrumpDonald John TrumpMinneapolis erupts for third night, as protests spread, Trump vows retaliation Stocks open mixed ahead of Trump briefing on China The island that can save America MORE’s legal woes, told The Hill he’ll formally endorse Warren in the coming days.

“She has an insightful structural critique of what’s gone wrong in the economy and she speaks in the best traditions of progressive liberal reformers on how to make it better,” Raskin said in an interview. “She is adamant that markets in America have to work for the people and she is someone who can actually unify all of the divergent elements of the party.”

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But Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist who helped found the Progressive Caucus in 1991, has landed endorsements from nearly all of the current CPC leadership team. This week, Co-Chairman Mark PocanMark William PocanHouse punts on FISA, votes to begin negotiations with Senate House cancels planned Thursday vote on FISA Pelosi pulls vote on FISA bill after Trump veto threat MORE (D-Wis.) threw his support behind Sanders, declaring the senator’s “authenticity, honesty, and movement for equality is the antidote our nation needs now.” Meanwhile, Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaHillicon Valley: House FISA bill in jeopardy | Democrats drop controversial surveillance measure | GOP working on legislation to strip Twitter of federal liability protections Lawmakers introduce bill to invest 0 billion in science, tech research House members race to prepare for first-ever remote votes MORE (D-Calif.), CPC’s first vice chairman, has been serving as co-chairman of Sanders’s 2020 presidential campaign and his top surrogate on Capitol Hill.

Three members of “the squad” — the four freshman women of color — also are on Team Bernie: Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezAn affordable zero-emissions grid needs new nuclear Recovery First: The American comeback shouldn't hinge on warmed-over policy agendas Ocasio-Cortez blames 'political power' of police for lack of accountability following George Floyd's death MORE (D-N.Y.), Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibPelosi: George Floyd death is 'a crime' Overnight Defense: Pentagon memo warns pandemic could go until summer 2021 | Watchdog finds Taliban violence is high despite US deal | Progressive Dems demand defense cuts Progressives demand defense budget cuts amid coronavirus pandemic MORE (D-Mich.) and Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - George Floyd's death sparks protests, National Guard activation Police killing in Minneapolis puts new scrutiny on Biden pick Pelosi says George Floyd was 'murdered on TV' MORE (D-Minn.), who is the chief whip or vote-counter for the CPC. The fourth squad member, Rep. Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyWarren's VP bid faces obstacle: Her state's Republican governor Democrats blast CDC report on minorities and COVID-19 Overnight Defense: Pentagon memo warns pandemic could go until summer 2021 | Watchdog finds Taliban violence is high despite US deal | Progressive Dems demand defense cuts MORE (D-Mass.), endorsed her home-state senator, Warren.

Khanna, a former Obama official who now represents a liberal San Francisco Bay Area district, had been aggressively working to secure Pocan’s endorsement for weeks, sources said. Texting and button-holing colleagues in the Capitol, Khanna also has been trying to recruit other undecided lawmakers, including Pocan’s CPC co-chair, Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalHouse punts on FISA, votes to begin negotiations with Senate Democrats press OSHA official on issuing an Emergency Temporary Standard House cancels planned Thursday vote on FISA MORE (D-Wash.), Rep. Alan LowenthalAlan Stuart LowenthalHouse members race to prepare for first-ever remote votes Tlaib, Lowenthal pen op-ed asking Trump administration to release aid to Palestinians to fight COVID-19 House Democrats jam GOP with coronavirus bill MORE (D-Calif.), and Rep. Yvette ClarkeYvette Diane ClarkeDemocrats introduce coronavirus-focused privacy legislation NY Democrats call for mortgage forgiveness in next coronavirus relief bill Hispanic Caucus pushes McConnell on 'Dreamer' bill MORE (D-N.Y.), a Black Caucus member. 

Jayapal hasn’t made any decision, but she appears to be leaning toward Sanders. She and Sanders go back to the 2016 cycle, when she became the first state lawmaker in Washington state to endorse Sanders. He returned the favor that year, making her one of the first congressional candidates in the county to receive his coveted endorsement.

“I have a very close relationship with Bernie; I have a very close relationship with Warren that is newer,” Jayapal told The Hill. “I will endorse but we just have to beat Trump, and I want a bold progressive to beat Trump. I will throw-in at some point.”

Sanders and Warren — longtime progressive allies and friends — are both heroes of the left who have similar policy prescriptions; both back "Medicare for All," free college, a $15 minimum wage, and higher taxes for the rich.

But in a rare rift this week, Warren accused Sanders of telling her during a private 2018 meeting that a woman could not win the White House — an allegation Sanders vehemently denied in a statement and on the debate stage in Iowa. Sanders, Warren, former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden campaign cancels fundraiser with Mueller prosecutor Twitter joins Democrats to boost mail-in voting — here's why The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - George Floyd's death sparks protests, National Guard activation MORE and former Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegBiden hopes to pick VP by Aug. 1 It's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process Here's how Biden can win over the minority vote and the Rust Belt MORE are in a tight four-way race in the first-in-the-nation caucuses.

The ugly, public spat over sexism in politics has complicated the endorsement decision for Jayapal and other liberals as they prepare to choose sides in the progressive civil war.

“Sexism is real. There is no question that she thinks she heard that from Bernie; there is no question that Bernie doesn’t think he said that,” Jayapal said. “At the end of the day, we need to get back to the issues and be clear that, No.1, a woman can win, that is absolutely true, and sexism is real. And the issues are what really are going to propel us to the end, and progressive unity is really important to that.”

Of course, Sanders and Warren aren’t the only ones locking in congressional endorsements. Biden, a Washington fixture, has support from three dozen senators and congressmen, including four Democrats who endorsed this week: Reps. Terri SewellTerrycina (Terri) Andrea SewellDemocratic candidates gear up for a dramatic Super Tuesday Bill banning menthol in cigarettes divides Democrats, with some seeing racial bias Sanders, Warren battle for progressive endorsements MORE (Ala.), Tom MalinowskiThomas (Tom) MalinowskiGun control group rolls out House endorsements Human Rights Campaign rolls out congressional endorsements on Equality Act anniversary House passes massive T coronavirus relief package MORE (N.J.), Sean Patrick Maloney (N.Y.) and Colin Allred (Texas).

And the latest entrant to the primary race, billionaire Michael BloombergMichael BloombergIt's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process Liberals embrace super PACs they once shunned .7 billion expected to be spent in 2020 campaign despite coronavirus: report MORE, picked up his first endorsements this week — moderate Democratic Reps. Max RoseMax RoseGun control group rolls out House endorsements Max Rose calls on Trump to use Defense Production Act to ensure small businesses have PPE 125 lawmakers urge Trump administration to support National Guard troops amid pandemic MORE (N.Y.), Harley RoudaHarley Edwin RoudaGloves come off as Democrats fight for House seat in California Gun control group rolls out House endorsements Human Rights Campaign rolls out congressional endorsements on Equality Act anniversary MORE (Calif.) and Stephanie MurphyStephanie MurphyCongress must fill the leadership void Overnight Health Care: Pence press secretary tests positive for coronavirus | Watchdog recommends ousted vaccine expert be temporarily reinstated | Health care industry loses 1.4 million jobs It's time to strengthen protections for government watchdogs in order to protect our taxpayer dollars MORE (Fla.), a leader of the Blue Dog Democrats.

Bloomberg, who has said he may spend up to $1 billion to defeat Trump this year, is even attracting praise from some staunch progressives, who say the former New York City mayor has “put his money where his mouth is” when it comes to backing campaigns to fight climate change and gun violence. 

“I haven’t endorsed anybody, and I am on the progressive wing of the Democratic party, so I wasn’t looking at him. But I am very impressed with some of the things he has done. He really stood up for gun safety and climate, and I think he needs to be acknowledged for doing that,” said Lowenthal, a Progressive Caucus member who represents Long Beach.

“He’s in it for the right reasons when it comes to Trump. He really sees him as a great danger.”