The Working Families Party endorsed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for the Democratic presidential nomination on Monday. The announcement comes less than a week after Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, whom the WFP endorsed in September, dropped out of the presidential race after a poor showing on Super Tuesday and in other early primary states.
WFP National Director Maurice Mitchell told The Intercept the group intended for their endorsement of Sanders to signal to Warren supporters that there’s a significant ideological and political divide between the two current Democratic frontrunners. Compared to former Vice President Joe Biden, Mitchell said, “[Sanders] is the person best suited to deliver on the change that many people in the Warren campaign were committed to.”
When WFP endorsed Warren in the fall, they held a ranked-choice vote of its national committee and online voters. Mitchell said it was clear from the beginning that there was strong support within the group for both Warren and Sanders. “Many strong Bernie supporters were also Elizabeth Warren supporters, and vice versa,” Mitchell said.
“Now that Elizabeth Warren has ended her campaign, we want to make the case to everybody — that’s all of the supporters of Elizabeth Warren’s change — that there’s a very clear contrast right now between Biden and Bernie. And Bernie’s clearly the person who believes in a Green New Deal, Medicare for All, has recently laid out a universal child care plan of his own,” he said.
On the question of whether the WFP endorsement might have any influence on Warren endorsing Sanders, Mitchell said they’d spoken to the Warren campaign. “Senator Warren knows our position,” he said. “She deserves the time and space to figure out what her next moves are. … And we’re sure that when she’s ready to make her next moves, she’ll make it known.”
WFP will be communicating to other Warren supporters to help ensure that Sanders is the nominee, Mitchell said.
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, another progressive group that’s long been an ally of Warren and which endorsed her in February, sent an email over the weekend to members in Michigan urging them to “vote strategically” for Sanders. The group has not endorsed anyone since Warren ended her campaign.
“We are still heartbroken that Elizabeth Warren is no longer running for president,” it read, in part. “If your top priority is defeating Trump, and you want to ensure both remaining Democratic candidates are tested so we know the eventual nominee can go the distance, vote for Bernie Sanders on Tuesday to stop the premature ending of this primary election.”