As the presidential primary season grinds on, some in the Democratic Party have become increasingly anxious about the successes U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent who caucuses with Democrats but identifies as a democratic socialist, has had in early primaries.
That has led to some speculation about what could happen if there is a brokered convention — that is, if no candidate gets a majority of pledged delegates won via states' primaries.
The New York Times today published a story sourced from high-ranking Democratic Party "super delegates" — federal elected officials, members of the Democratic National Committee and other party leaders — who would help decide a brokered convention in the case no candidate reaches the 1,991 delegates needed to clinch the nomination. In that case, the 771 superdelegates would take a second vote along with the 3,979 pledged delegates on whichever candidate they see fit.
Sanders has done well in three primary contests so far — but a slate of more moderate candidates have won more votes in aggregate. The fear among party leaders is that this trend continues, with Sanders winning more votes than his opponents but not enough to win the nomination outright.
One very unlikely scenario some superdelegates have suggested: If Sanders or another candidate comes into the convention with the most delegates, but not an outright majority, the party could pull in a surprise candidate like U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a popular Ohio progressive who last year declined to campaign for a presidential nod.
The article reports:
In recent weeks, Democrats have placed a steady stream of calls to Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, who opted against running for president nearly a year ago, suggesting that he can emerge as a white knight nominee at a brokered convention — in part on the theory that he may carry his home state in a general election.
"If you could get to a convention and pick Sherrod Brown, that would be wonderful, but that’s more like a novel,' Representative Steve Cohen of Tennessee said. 'Donald Trump’s presidency is like a horror story, so if you can have a horror story you might as well have a novel.”
There are plenty of other ideas Democrats are batting about. And it's still early in the process: Less than 3 percent of all delegates have been won via contests in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada. But March 3 — "Super Tuesday" — will likely show more clearly which trajectory the primary election is taking. Sixteen states are set to vote that day, and any candidate could find themselves on the path toward an easy nomination if she or he wins the most delegates in most or all of them. Other states' primaries follow, including Ohio's on March 17.
But Super Tuesday could also see Sanders — the current frontrunner — split the delegates won with other candidates like South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Vice President Joe Biden or U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. If that were to happen, it could put the contest on the road to a brokered convention.
In the meantime, as the article reports, "a number of superdelegates dream of a savior candidate who is not now in the race, perhaps Mr. Brown, or maybe someone who already dropped out the race, like Senator Kamala Harris of California."
Brown, for his part, has made no indication he's open to the possibility after closing the door on a presidential run last year.