In the interest of full disclosure, the writer of this article is a Hillary Clinton supporter. This primary season seems like it is déjà vu all over again. Early in 2007 when candidates began declaring their candidacy for the presidency of the United States, popular wisdom had crowned Hillary Clinton as the inevitable nominee of the Democratic Party. She invariably carried this status throughout 2007 all the way until the Iowa Caucus early in 2008. Hillary Clinton was defeated in the Iowa Caucus by another U.S. Senator named Barack Obama. Although Clinton won the following primary in New Hampshire, the planned coronation of Clinton never materialized. Later that 2008 season in South Carolina, Bill Clinton, campaigning for his wife alienated many Black voters with disparaging comments about Barack Obama’s candidacy. He essentially referred to Obama’s campaign as a fairytale. Ironically, this criticism seemed to be a racial knock against Obama and the King legacy. It has taken eight years for this wound to heal. Yet, last week, Bill Clinton was at it again when got into a verbal sparring match with Black Lives Matter activists at one of Bill Clinton’s rallies for his wife. The Clinton’s certainly do not want to alienate the Black vote in 2016.
This election season, for the Democrats, began similarly to the 2008 election season. Democrats were looking to Hillary Clinton as the party’s inevitable presidential nominee. Early on it was even thought that she would go virtually unchallenged in the Democratic Primary. Even when Bernie Sanders, the 74 year old Senator from Vermont, announced his candidacy for the presidency on May 26, 2015, no one believed that his candidacy would threaten Clinton’s chances for the nomination. Fast forward to April 2016. Almost a year after announcing his candidacy Sanders is still in the race. He is quietly winning low profile caucuses and a handful of primaries. It also appears that Sanders is vying for a tumultuous upset of Clinton in New York State. Bernie Sanders was born in Brooklyn. One could say he is a hometown boy who did well. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, moved to New York with Bill Clinton, after his presidency concluded. Some argue this was a strategic move to advance the Clinton Foundation and perhaps lay the groundwork for a Hillary Clinton run for the White House. Nevertheless, former First Lady Clinton made history when she became the first former First Lady to elected to the United States Senate. She represented the state of New York for eight years. Therefore, both Sanders and Clinton are claiming hometown and home state status.
The Democratic battle for the state of New York is bringing some tensions to the surface. Sanders stated that Clinton is not qualified to be President. Clinton questioned Sander’s loyalty to the Democrat Party and Democrats given the fact that Sander’s has laid claim to be being a Socialist. He is a Socialist; however, he caucuses with Democrats in the Senate. If Sanders were to defeat Clinton in New York, this could prove to be a crushing blow. This would not necessarily be a knockout blow, but it could prove damaging to Clinton in the general election. Republican would gain a lot of traction from the fact that she could not carry her own state in the Democratic Primary. Remember, in the election of 2000, Al Gore could not carry his home state of Tennessee. On the other side of the coin, if Clinton were to win her home state of New York, Sanders could remain an irritant to her candidacy, but he would not receive the nomination. New York State is offering 295 delegates on April 19, 2016. A key factor in Clinton’s favor is that the New York state primary is a closed primary. This means that only registered Democrats can vote. Those who are independent with not party affiliation cannot vote. It is believed that Sanders would benefit from the independent vote. Moreover, more first time young voters may not have registered in time to vote in the April primary.
There are two key factors to watch concerning the Sanders insurgency. First, the Democrat Party Super Delegates are holding firm to Clinton. Unlike Obama in 2008 Sanders in not persuading the uncommitted or Super Delegates to cross over to his side. Some argue that this could change if Sanders were to win New York. Second, the Black vote is holding firm to Clinton in 2016. Congressman John Lewis was a staunch Clinton supporter at the beginning of 2008. However, Obama’s win in Iowa and a subsequent strong showing in the race persuaded Lewis to switch his support from Clinton to Obama. Lewis stated that he did not want to be on the wrong side of history. In 2016 Lewis will not switch his support from Hillary Clinton to Bernie Sanders in 2016. He has not said, but I can only imagine that once again Congressman Lewis does not want to be on the wrong side of history.