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Post Super Tuesday, Bernie Sanders for President NJ Chairman Larry Hamm said he suspects the Democratic Party establishment will harden its support for conventional primary lines. “I would have said the party was inching its way toward it, but this was based on the thinking that Joe Biden’s campaign would collapse. They may abandon that position and attach a line to Biden now. I think this outcome with Super Tuesday will move them in that direction.”
U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) was the first big New Jersey name amid the chaos of a developing Democratic Primary to call for an open primary in his home state, followed by other establishment types. The unstated reason for the idea hinged in part on their view that incumbent U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) would have more protection from the possible synergistic progressive alliance of Sanders (especially if Sanders is strong heading into the June 2nd Democratic Primary in NJ) and Hamm, who is himself running for U.S. Senate in the Democratic Primary.
An establishment source today told InsiderNJ that establishment interest in the open primary remains high. “It’s built on the premise of Booker being afraid of Bernie,” said the source. “Booker don’t want to deal with it. It’s still a fight.”
On the same morning that former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg dropped out of the contest following a poor showing on Super Tuesday despite spending $600 million off his own fortune, talks intensified behind the scenes about Biden absorbing some of Bloomberg’s campaign apparatus in New Jersey. It won’t be simply a matter of tearing down Bloomberg signs and replacing them with Biden signs, a source told InsiderNJ. Biden will never have the kind of money Bloomberg possessed to sustain the scale of operation the billionaire planned to have here. But expect a hybrid, the source said.
Hamm shrugged off the potential for such an organizational tag team.
“It’s not uncommon for one campaign to merge campaign operations with another,” said the veteran activist. “When I was an organizations coordinator for the [Jesse] Jackson campaign [in the 1980s] we merged with the [Mike] Dukakis campaign. It’s a common practice, and it’s going to be interesting to see how that happens here.”
Hamm reflected on the contest now as it stands: Biden 453; Sanders 373.
“First of all, I think Bloomberg was running as much against Bernie as he was against Trump,” said the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate. “You ever been to a bullfight? You know before the matador walks into the ring, they bring in the picadors to weaken the bull. These people here, Bloomberg and others, were the picadors.
“Now it’s going to be a two-person race, or essentially a repeat of 2016, only this time the wealthy class will throw money behind Biden,” Hamm added. “Anyway you cut this cake, it’s an uphill fight for Bernie if people. If people come out and vote in record numbers, he still can go into the convention with a majority of delegates. It’s not over.”
Hamm said he sees the likelihood of New Jersey relevance this year, based on what happened last night.
The delegate race from now until June could conceivably put New Jersey in a decisive position.
“Joe Biden was all but dead,” he said. “Biden has run for president three times. The miracle is Bernie Sanders still standing, but I do think the New Jersey Primary could take on heightened importance.”