Political notes: It’s now a Biden-Sanders nomination battle
Baker focuses on committee races ; Weld trumped
THE DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL contest turned into a two-man race as former vice president Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders divided the spoils of Super Tuesday balloting across 14 states, setting up a clash of the party’s moderate and liberal wings.
Biden, whose campaign was on life-support just a week ago, rode the wave of his decisive win in Saturday’s South Carolina primary to victory across the five southern states, notching wins in Alabama, Arkansas, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia, scoring a big victory in Texas, and topping the balloting in Oklahoma, Minnesota, and Maine.
One of the biggest surprises was in Massachusetts, where Biden raced past Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who placed third in her home state, a result that may sound the death knell for Warren’s already listing campaign.
Sanders won the primaries in California, the biggest delegate prize of the night, Colorado, Utah, and his home state of Vermont.
In the span of 48 hours, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar pulled out of the race and threw their support to Biden.
Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, who poured more than $500 million into the race premised on the idea that Biden was faltering as the choice of more moderate voters, was not poised to win any states, though he was clearing the 15 percent threshold needed to collect delegates.
Bloomberg and Warren are likely to be reassessing their efforts in the wake of Tuesday’s vote, and may face calls to exit the race.
Almost 30 percent of Democratic voters across the 14 states made up their mind in the last few days, according to exit polls, and they broke decisively for Biden.
In a speech to supporters in Los Angeles, Biden extolled the working class, unions, and immigrants, and vowed to help rebuild the country’s middle class. “We need an economy that rewards work, not wealth,” he said, He tore into President Trump by saying his campaign will work for “a revival of decency, honor, and character.”
Addressing supporters in Vermont, Sanders set up the coming showdown with Biden, now the clear favorite of the Democratic establishment, saying Trump cannot be defeated with “the same old, same old politics.” He said his grassroots coalition would inspire the largest voter turnout in US history and “defeat the most dangerous president in the history of our country.”
BAKER JOCKEYS FOR CONTROL IN STATE COMMITTEE RACES
A mysterious group identifying itself as supporters of Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito sent emails on Tuesday to Republicans across the state in a bid to get out the vote for Baker-backed candidates for state committee posts.
“It’s crucial that Charlie and Karyn have a strong team on the Republican State Committee to back them up,” said the email.
The need for such an appeal was unusual given that Baker is the highest-ranking Republican in the state and one of the most popular governors in America. But he is facing an uphill battle to wrest control of the relatively small state party away from loyalists of President Trump led by former state rep Jim Lyons, the chair of the Massachusetts GOP.
Races for the 80 GOP state committee posts are unregulated, so it’s unclear who is spending campaign funds and how much they are spending. Several candidates have complained about how nasty the races have become, with many Trump supporters accusing the Baker forces of putting out misleading and untruthful mailings. One mailing sent out to voters even targeted an incumbent Trump supporter currently serving on the state committee by featuring an image of Trump telling the candidate: “You’re fired.”
The shadowy group promoting Baker-backed candidates identifies itself as the “supporters of Baker-Polito” and lists only a post office box in Boston as its address.
WELD GETS TRUMPED
It’s not clear what Bill Weld would have considered a symbolic victory in his Republican primary challenge to President Trump in Massachusetts, but if cracking into double digits was the bar, Weld was likely not toasting with amber-colored liquids on Tuesday night.
With 90 percent of precincts reporting, the AP reported Wednesday morning that the former Massachusetts governor had 9 percent of the primary vote in the state where he seemed poised to have his best showing. Trump was running away with the contest with 88 percent of the vote. Former Illinois congressman Joe Walsh, who dropped out of the race last month, had 1 percent.
Weld, who was twice elected as a Republican to the state’s highest office in the 1990s and was the vice presidential nominee of the Libertarian Party four years ago, launched a primary quixotic run against Trump, calling him unfit to for the office and some who had “the universal reputation of being the most dishonest businessman in New York.”
State GOP chairman Jim Lyons reveled in Trump’s wipeout of the state’s former governor, and used the results to jab at never-Trump Republicans like Weld who have unsuccessfully sought to break the president’s stranglehold on GOP voters.
“The president’s opponent was once the most popular and formidable political figure in the Commonwealth, but tonight, Massachusetts Republicans embraced Donald Trump, and those who would splinter and divide the Republican Party have fallen flat once again,” Lyons said in a statement.
Weld protege Charlie Baker, with whom Lyons is tussling for control of the Republican State Committee, has also shunned Trump, declaring four years ago that he did not vote for him, a position he said he intends to keep this year. But Baker has been mum on how he’ll vote this year, and denied his mentor an endorsement in advance of today’s primary. At his Swampscott polling place on Tuesday evening Baker declined to tell State House News Service how he marked his Republican primary ballot.