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Several key New Jersey Democrats are waiting for New Hampshire to stick a fork in Joe Biden’s presidential candidacy.
At least one quietly seethed over U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill’s (D-11) decision to lead the pack with a pre-
New Hampshire endorsement of the former Vice President. “Mikie… Mikie…” railed the source, apparently irritated over being denied a massive simultaneous show of support for former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, forced now to stagger out behind the leader.
It was mild, even half kidding – and yet the source acknowledged a ripple of angst.
Part of the establishment is patiently, even charitably awaiting South Carolina results, but multiple party members are increasingly bothered by Biden’s apparent failure to kickstart some excitement in his campaign. After stumbling in Iowa, the presidential contender – once the frontrunner – essentially conceded New Hampshire.
It’s a problem for the party establishment that had originally seen a natural fit with a candidate perceived to be rustbelt-friendly, and supposedly low drama in a machine-functioning state like Jersey.
“I think he can come in second and be ok,” said a party source, referring to Iowa. “Third’s an obvious problem.”
That was before last Monday’s contest.
Biden finished fourth.
“Biden’s biggest issue is his numbers are slipping in South Carolina,” the source added.
Another source said the New Jersey cash cow is reluctant to part with money considering Biden’s abysmal Iowa showing and seeming inability to course correct.
Once U.S. Senator Cory Booker collapsed, the plan was to gently pivot to Biden, and now, as Biden falls apart, the plan is to gently follow Sherrill’s lead and pivot to Bloomberg. Burned by Booker, fundraisers don’t have money to fritter on a sputtering Biden.
Though the party might be running out of 78-year old white dudes at this point, Bernie Sanders, in fact, looks like the establishment’s last option, as party leaders grimly assess the prospect of a Democratic socialist occupying the top of the ticket in New Jersey. “We’d lose those battleground districts,” a Democratic source groaned, specifically identifying CD2, CD3, and CD7, insisting nonetheless on the insulation of financially well-connected U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-5) and enduring star power of Sherrill.
Biden (Bloomberg) or Bloomberg (Biden) is supposed to be sufficiently innocuous (billionaire Bloomberg pays his own way, which solves the money issue, just as Jon Corzine and Phil Murphy did in 2005 and 2017 respectively; while Biden has name ID, again a big money saver) to create a sleepwalking effect in a state that will go for the Democrat anyway, where the establishment doesn’t want the lingering headache of a 2020 Democrat who will conceivably play havoc with establishment-controllable 2021 statewide goal posts.
Never in the establishment conversation is a consideration of women candidates (both Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar are still competitive; though only Klobuchar can claim to be surging as Warren struggles to get around seeming Sanders inevitability on that wing of the party); and only mild bubbling at this particular point in time of some Pete Buttigieg (who this past week collected the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Andy Kim, pictured [top] with Biden, who campaigned for him 2018) recognition.
“I think we might be ok with Mayor Pete [at the top of the ticket],” a party boss wearily told InsiderNJ, but with a tentative tone that suggested just-under-the-surface craving, with Biden crumbling, for a Bloomberg comfort zone.
InsiderNJ pointed out that Bloomberg’s Super Tuesday strategy could go the way of his New York predecessor, Rudy Giuliani, whose creative, late-play political mapmaking face-planted him in the 2008 Republican Primary for president.
“Rudy didn’t have Mike’s money,” the Democrat snapped complacently.