Sanders wins Wisconsin in a landslide, works to build unity

In the wake of Bernie Sanders’ blow-out victory in yesterday’s Wisconsin Democratic Party presidential primary, the candidate, his campaign manager and top party leaders stressed the need for unity against the Republicans.

There were near record turnouts across the state, despite new voter ID laws imposed by right wing Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

During his campaign, Sanders made a special appeal to union members, who for years have been the target of Walker’s attacks.

Although Sanders won by 14 points, as of midnight last night he netted only 14 more delegates than Hillary Clinton because of the rather complicated way the Wisconsin primary works (*see below).

Although the margin between Sanders and Clinton remains about the same as it’s been since early in the campaign the momentum going forward is clearly, at least for now, with the Vermont senator. To clinch the nomination before going into the convention, however, Sanders would still have to win better than 60 percent of delegates up for grabs in the remaining primaries and caucuses.

Shortly after the Wisconsin primary, Sanders’ campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, said on CNN “We want to have debates to contrast the differences between Bernie and Hillary, but we don’t want to destroy the unity of the Democratic Party.”

Contrariwise, the victor of Wisconsin’s Republican primary, Ted Cruz, spoke wistfully on a TV program about driving a car over his opponent, Donald Trump. Earlier, Trump bragged that “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”

Cruz gained enough delegates in Wisconsin to make it nearly impossible for Trump to win the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination going into the convention.

Chances are the Republican nominee will be chosen during the national convention this coming July in Cleveland. If the shenanigans of the Republican campaigns are any indication, there could very well be a slugfest among delegates, either figuratively or literally.

Actually, there’s a chance that the Republican delegates will not constrain themselves to merely slugging it out. Ohio is an open gun carry state and 40,000 convention attendees signed a petition demanding that the Republican Party allow convention participants to carry guns. Although the U.S. Secret Service ruled against guns at the convention, it will be perfectly legal to tote them outside the walls of the Quicken Loans Arena.

Same stuff, different wrapping

Most commentators chalk up Trump’s defeat to his “bad week.”

His favorability rating among women voters, never very high, plummeted when he called for women who get abortions to be “punished” if the procedure is made illegal.

He also kept switching his story about his campaign manager assaulting a reporter.

Furthermore Huffington Post fact checkers found that during a one-hour town hall meeting, Trump told 71 different whoppers, or 1.16 falsehoods every minute.

Actually, all three Republican candidates are trying to peddle the same snake oil. They just use different wrappings.

All three are anti-worker rights and anti-union. Among other things, all three want to cut taxes for the rich, give corporations free rein, privatize basic services, sell off public lands, rip up the Iran deal, repeal Obamacare and abolish the IRS, EPA and the Department of Education.

Cruz wraps up his proposals in the Scriptures. He says God “mandates free enterprise, small government,” and, of course, that you vote for Ted Cruz.

John Kasich surrounds his program with what he calls “conservative principles.”

And Trump surrounds his programs – such as they are – with his own arms and clutches them to his own bosom. When Trump was asked by a TV host who he talks to about foreign policy, he said he mostly talks to himself.

Keeping on track

Meanwhile, both Clinton and Sanders are staying on course and are trying to inject substantive discussions about real issues into the primary campaigns.

Paul Begala, a Democratic Party leader and Clinton advisor, pointed out on CNN that “Hillary and Bernie have spent millions of dollars on campaign ads, and not one has been negative.”

He praised Sanders for bringing “enthusiasm” into the Democratic Party and for working for the unity needed to protect the White House from being captured by the right wing. He pointed out that in his Wisconsin Primary victory speech, Sanders did not attack Clinton.

Begala said “that’s a sure sign Bernie wants to unite the party.”

What’s more, several Democratic Party leaders have credited Sanders with bringing Clinton “closer to the Democratic base.”

Wisconsin Democratic Primary

In the Democratic primary, there are four kinds of delegates. Wisconsin has 96 total delegates going to the convention; 86 of them are “pledged” which means they are tied to primary votes. Delegate selection is a proportional system, which means district level-delegates are apportioned among top vote getters by district while at-large delegates are apportioned among top vote getters statewide by percentage of vote received above a certain threshold.

The breakdown: 57 Congressional District delegates; 10 pledged Party Leaders and Elected Officials; 10 unpledged PLEOs or super delegates; 19 at-large

1. Congressional District delegates: Wisconsin has a total of 52 district-level delegates and five alternates. Each Congressional District is allotted a percentage of those delegates based on the 2012 and 2014 Democratic performance in that district.

2. Pledged Party Leader and Election Official delegates: Delegates including large city mayors, state legislative leaders, state legislators and other local party leaders

3. Unpledged PLEOs: Delegates including members of the Democratic National Committee who legally reside in the state and all of Wisconsin’s Democratic Members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. These delegates are probably better known as “super delegates.” Super delegates aren’t required to adhere to the results of the state’s primary election, meaning they can vote for their candidate of choice, not necessarily the winner of the primary.

4. At-large delegates and alternates: Delegates elected by the Democratic Party of Wisconsin’s Administrative Committee. People not chosen for delegate will then be considered candidates for at-large alternate positions unless they specify otherwise when filing.

From the Capital Times, Madison Wisconsin April 4, 2016

Photo: Sanders speaks in Wisconsin.   |   Andy Manis/AP


Larry Rubin
Larry Rubin

Larry Rubin has been a union organizer, a speechwriter and an editor of union publications. He was a civil rights organizer in the Deep South and is often invited to speak on applying Movement lessons to today's challenges. He has produced several folk music shows.