June 6, 2017

One Year Later, Dem Civil War Rages On

Today marks the one year anniversary of the Associated Press saying that Hillary Clinton was the presumptive Democratic nominee, but the tumultuous dynamic of that primary still rages on today.

According to Politico, that intra-party divide has serious implications for the two gubernatorial races this year. In a story this morning, Politico shows that if the Democrats nominate Ralph Northam in Virginia and Phil Murphy in New Jersey, the grassroots anger at the Democratic establishment will “intensify as a result”:

“Both Phil Murphy and Virginia Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam now position themselves as progressives running on liberal platforms in states that voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump, and both have launched scathing attacks on the president. But the easy caricatures of their backgrounds has some national Democrats nervous about its effect on the grassroots fires burning through the party early in 2017 — and worried that their bruising internal battles about Democrats’ future may just intensify as a result.”

In New Jersey, Assemblyman John Wisniewski, a strong Sanders supporter, is warning Democrats that a Murphy win will “sap energy from base voters”:

“That gap hasn’t stopped Murphy’s opponents from going after the likely nominee over his banking and party establishment ties… The broadsides from Wisniewski, who served as Sanders’ New Jersey campaign chairman in 2016, have been particularly strident. And Johnson, who describes his candidacy as a potential guiding light for the national party, has warned that a Murphy win could sap energy from base voters”

The longevity of the Democratic Party’s internal conflict is a testament to how fractured the party is. If Democrats want any chance of recovering from their current low state, they’ll have to finally move past the 2016 Democratic primary. Yet given that one year later the feud is as strong as ever, it seems much more likely that a year from today the Clinton-Sanders divide will still be the dominant Democratic story.