What happens next for the Bernie wing ‘is an open question,’ says one top Democrat.
ATLANTA — Sen. Bernie Sanders and his supporters went hard after anyone who wouldn’t back Keith Ellison in the run-up to the Democratic National Committee chair election.
Sanders phoned Jaime Harrison on Wednesday, the South Carolina Democratic chair who was on the verge of dropping out of the race, making a heavy pitch for him to endorse Ellison as a transformational moment for the party.
The next day, when Harrison threw his support to former Labor secretary Tom Perez instead, Ellison supporters worked off talking points and attacked him as a corporate lobbyist insider who’d struck a crooked deal that didn’t pass their purity test.
New York Rep. Greg Meeks had his own showdowns with the Sanders-inspired coalition. One of the few sitting members of Congress who had a vote in the DNC election here Saturday, Meeks was repeatedly threatened by Ellison and Sanders supporters with a primary challenge if he backed anyone else.
Ellison’s loss in the second-round of voting dashed the Sanders wing’s hopes of taking over the party establishment. But to the surprise of most in the room, the announcement that Perez won was met mostly with applause, rather than an outbreak of chaos and screams. There were chants of “Party for the people, not big money,” that briefly interrupted the proceedings but they came from a total of nine very loud Ellison supporters who were sitting in the seats left open to the general public.
What happens next for party’s Sanders-aligned movement, said Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed — who backed Perez — “is an open question.”
More likely, it’s two questions: what Ellison does next, and what Ellison’s supporters do next.