Berniecrats Endorse Kucinich, Bernie Keeps His Distance

His supporters’ endorsement of Dennis Kucinich over Richard Cordray for the Ohio governorship is raising eyebrows — and questions — about the Sanders movement’s 2020 prospects.

For those who enjoy keeping up with intra-progressive intrigue, there’s been a buzz this week about the official organization of former and future Bernie Sanders supporters, Our Revolution, deciding to endorse everybody’s favorite loopy lefty, Dennis Kucinich, for governor of Ohio.

One one level, this made sense: Kucinich was an early and avid supporter of Sanders in 2016, and has long had a loyal following among people who believe much of American economic life is one big corporate ripoff.

But at the same time, Kucinich hasn’t won an election since 2010, and has never won a statewide contest. His legendary eccentricity seems a poor match for a serious campaign for a governorship, particularly of a state he has left periodically to, well, find himself.

And more to the point, a lot of Democrats have been offended by Kucinich’s strange emergence as a Fox Democrat who often defends Donald Trump. Indeed, he all but announced his candidacy on Fox & Friends. This makes him a questionable alternative to Democratic front-runner Richard Cordray, who has the backing of most national Democrats, most notably Elizabeth Warren.

The Our Revolution folk might remonstrate that Cordray’s been squishy at best on gun issues in the past (which is suddenly more relevant than it might have been a few weeks ago), and that their organization and its spiritual leader are not, after all, necessarily Democrats. But still: There aren’t many political observers who think Kucinich is remotely as strong a general election candidate as Cordray (a recent Public Policy Polling survey had the former running 11 points behind likely GOP nominee Mike DeWine, and the latter just one point behind).

In any event, Our Revolution’s action has put Bernie Sanders himself on the spot, forcing him either to disclaim any real influence over his own people in a key state, or to cast doubt on his political chops at a time Democrats want someone for 2020 who can play error-free baseball. As David Weigel reports, Sanders is giving the Ohio race a wide berth at this point:

Let me be very clear: Bernie Sanders will make endorsements, and Our Revolution will make endorsements. Sometimes they will make endorsements in races I’m staying out of. I will not be making endorsements in the governor’s race in Ohio or Illinois. I’ve known Dennis Kucinich forever, I consider him a friend, but I am not making an endorsement there.

If this Bernie/Berniecrat gap in political strategy turns out not to be just some peculiarity of Ohio, but instead a regular occurrence, it will definitely cast some doubt on the singleness of purpose with which an army forms behind Sanders if he does choose to run for president in 2020.

Berniecrats Endorse Kucinich, Bernie Keeps His Distance