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 SandersBriahna Joy Gray: Progressives like Turner should reconsider running as Democrats Senate Democrats to introduce measure taxing major polluters Biden called Shontel Brown to congratulate her after Ohio primary win MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenHillicon Valley: Senators highlight security threats from China during rare public hearing | Facebook suspends accounts of NYU researchers who've criticized platform Democrats urge Amazon, Facebook to drop requests for Khan recusal Senate Democrats to introduce measure taxing major polluters 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 CastroLawmakers can't reconcile weakening the SALT cap with progressive goals House Democrats reintroduce bill addressing diversity at State Department Julian Castro joins NBC and MSNBC as political analyst MORE (D-Texas), brother of Julián Castro who backed Warren after dropping out of the presidential race this month; Rep. Katherine ClarkKatherine Marlea ClarkCBC presses Biden to extend eviction moratorium Top House Democrats call on Biden administration to extend eviction moratorium Select committee member thanks officers who responded Jan. 6: 'You were our last line of defense' MORE (D-Mass.), a member of Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiLiz Cheney says her father is 'deeply troubled' about the state of the Republican Party 19 House Democrats call on Capitol physician to mandate vaccines Ohio special election: A good day for Democrats 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 RaskinThe job of shielding journalists is not finished House at war over Jan. 6 inquiry, mask mandate GOP Rep. Clyde defends 'normal tourist visit' comparison for Jan. 6 MORE (D-Md.), a constitutional law professor who’s emerged as a leading critic of President TrumpDonald TrumpMajority of Americans in new poll say it would be bad for the country if Trump ran in 2024 ,800 bottle of whiskey given to Pompeo by Japan is missing Liz Cheney says her father is 'deeply troubled' about the state of the Republican Party 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 PocanLawmakers can't reconcile weakening the SALT cap with progressive goals Overnight Defense: 6B Pentagon spending bill advances | Navy secretary nominee glides through hearing | Obstacles mount in Capitol security funding fight House panel advances 6B Pentagon bill on party-line vote 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) KhannaCalifornia Democrats warn of low turnout in recall election Overnight Energy: Democrats request interview with Exxon lobbyist after undercover tapes | Biden EPA to reconsider Trump rollback on power plant pollution in 2022 | How climate change and human beings influence wildfires Democrats request interview with Exxon lobbyist after undercover tapes 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-CortezOhio special election: A good day for Democrats Five takeaways from the Ohio special primaries Shontel Brown wins Ohio Democratic primary in show of establishment strength MORE (D-N.Y.), Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibOhio special election: A good day for Democrats 'The Squad' celebrates Biden eviction moratorium Press: Inmates have taken over the asylum MORE (D-Mich.) and Ilhan OmarIlhan Omar'The Squad' celebrates Biden eviction moratorium Press: Inmates have taken over the asylum Biden, Pelosi struggle with end of eviction ban MORE (D-Minn.), who is the chief whip or vote-counter for the CPC. The fourth squad member, Rep. Ayanna PressleyAyanna Pressley'The Squad' celebrates Biden eviction moratorium Press: Inmates have taken over the asylum Biden, Pelosi struggle with end of eviction ban 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 JayapalHillicon Valley: Senators highlight security threats from China during rare public hearing | Facebook suspends accounts of NYU researchers who've criticized platform Democrats urge Amazon, Facebook to drop requests for Khan recusal 'The Squad' celebrates Biden eviction moratorium MORE (D-Wash.), Rep. Alan LowenthalAlan Stuart LowenthalShakespeare gets a congressional hearing in this year's 'Will on the Hill' Face mask PPE is everywhere now — including the ocean Native Americans urge Deb Haaland to help tackle pollution in communities of color MORE (D-Calif.), and Rep. Yvette ClarkeYvette Diane ClarkeHouse passes host of bills to strengthen cybersecurity in wake of attacks Haiti Caucus: Forging path out of crisis will not be quick, but necessary to avoid false 'democracy' US lawmakers express shock at Haitian president's assassination 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 nominates Mark Brzezinski to be U.S. ambassador to Poland 10 dead after overloaded van crashes in south Texas Majority of New York state Assembly support beginning process to impeach Cuomo: AP MORE and former Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegSunday shows - Delta variant, infrastructure dominate Sunday shows preview: Delta concerns prompt CDC mask update; bipartisan infrastructure bill to face challenges in Senate Chasten Buttigieg: DC 'almost unaffordable' 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 tensions simmer in House between left, center Alabama museum unveils restored Greyhound bus for Freedom Rides' 60th anniversary Rep. Terri Sewell declines to run for Senate in Alabama MORE (Ala.), Tom MalinowskiThomas (Tom) MalinowskiHouse lawmakers push for diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics Kean Jr. to run against Malinowski: report The tool we need to expand COVID-19 vaccinations world-wide MORE (N.J.), Sean Patrick Maloney (N.Y.) and Colin Allred (Texas).

And the latest entrant to the primary race, billionaire Michael BloombergMichael BloombergBipartisan infrastructure win shows Democrats must continue working across the aisle WHO leader issues warning on 'harmful' e-cigarettes Six months in, two challenges could define Biden's presidency MORE, picked up his first endorsements this week — moderate Democratic Reps. Max RoseMax Rose'Blue wave' Democrats eye comebacks after losing reelection Overnight Defense: Austin takes helm at Pentagon | COVID-19 briefing part of Day 1 agenda | Outrage over images of National Guard troops in parking garage Austin sworn in as nation's first Black Pentagon chief MORE (N.Y.), Harley RoudaHarley Edwin Rouda'Blue wave' Democrats eye comebacks after losing reelection Former Rep. Rohrabacher says he took part in Jan. 6 march to Capitol but did not storm building Republicans race for distance from 'America First Caucus' MORE (Calif.) and Stephanie MurphyStephanie MurphyLawmakers can't reconcile weakening the SALT cap with progressive goals Select committee member thanks officers who responded Jan. 6: 'You were our last line of defense' House erupts in anger over Jan. 6 and Trump's role 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.”