Bernie Sanders appears to be weighing the most important decision of his lengthy campaign: whether or not to tandem-skydive into his Friday night rally.
Jimmy Halliday, president and jumpmaster of NorCal Skydiving in Cloverdale, California, was first approached by Sanders staffers this Wednesday, The Press Democrat reports. On Thursday, he and a Sanders aide executed a successful tandem jump.
“I’ve been told they will run the idea by Bernie,” Halliday told the paper. “I can’t confirm that’s the plan. I know that’s a possibility.”
Michael Morrissey, the manager of the Cloverdale airport where the rally will be held, told The Press Democrat that Sanders is “supposed to make a grand entrance,” but wouldn’t specify what would give the entrance its grandeur.
For Sanders, the upside of the skydive entrance is clear: While the Vermont senator is already performing well with California Democrats who identify as either “somewhat badass” or “very badass,” jumping out of a freaking plane — one day after cutting a track with Thurston Moore — would give the septuagenarian socialist a real shot at sweeping the demographic.
But the move isn’t without its perils — if not for Sanders, then at least for his party. No matter what happens in California, Hillary Clinton will almost certainly be the Democratic nominee. And to defeat Trump in November, she’s going to need to win over those badass voters — without alienating the lamewads in the center of the electorate. Sanders’s jump could make that feat more difficult by forcing Clinton to adopt even gnarlier positions than she already has: To consolidate her party’s base, the former secretary of State may be forced to perform a tandem dive of her own, or else drop a single with Kim Gordon. While those things may play fine in a Democratic primary, there are plenty of swing voters in Cuyahoga County who think skydiving is unsafe and that Sonic Youth is extremely overrated.
Whatever Sanders decides, his entrance will mark a pivotal moment in the Democratic race and not merely an amusing distraction for political writers to ponder on a slow news day.
Update: Sanders press secretary Symone Sanders (no relation) tells Politico that the senator will not be skydiving. Whether this is just the campaign’s way of lowering expectations — and/or hinting that Sanders has secured access to a jetpack — remains to be seen.