By Lisa Keen
Hillary Clinton became the first woman in U.S. history to secure the presidential nomination of a major party; Bernie Sanders’ attack on Barney Frank unsuccessful; Donald Trump promises an attack speech next week.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton unofficially secured the Democratic presidential nomination Tuesday, even before votes were tallied in the six states that held primaries June 7. U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders vowed to continue his now long-shot campaign, and Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump suggested he would make a “major” speech next week to launch an assault on Clinton’s character.
Tuesday’s reporting was largely centered around Clinton, as most media reports marked Clinton’s speech to supporters as an historic moment – when, for the first time in U.S. history, a woman has won a major party’s nomination for the presidency. Speaking from her campaign headquarters in Brooklyn, New York, Clinton linked her nomination to the historic movement to gain the right to vote for women and promised to help “write the next chapter” in American history.
In another historic first, California voters on Tuesday advanced two Democrats, both women, to contend in November for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by long-time LGBT supporter Barbara Boxer. It is the first time the state’s general election ballot will include two candidates of the same party for a Senate seat.
State Attorney General Kamala Harris and U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez were the top two vote getters and, under California primary rules, they advance even though they are in the same party. Both are strong supporters of LGBT civil rights. Sanchez scored 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign’s Congressional Scorecard for the 113th Congress, and 85 and 88 for the previous two sessions. The lesbian political action committee LPAC endorsed Harris, as did Equality California. The Human Rights Campaign did not endorse a candidate in the race.
Harris and Sanchez were the best known of seven Democrats, 12 Republicans, and 15 third party candidates in the Senate primary.
Clinton reaches delegate goal
Associated Press reported Monday that Clinton had just secured enough delegates to win the Democratic presidential nomination. Counting delegates she won in primaries and super delegates who have committed to voting for her at the convention, Clinton could count on more than the magic number: 2,383.
Super delegates are party officials and leaders who are given votes to cast at the convention and whose votes don’t have to be tied to how primary voters in their states vote. LGBT super delegates pledged to Clinton include Senator Tammy Baldwin and U.S. Reps. David Cicilline, Jared Polis, Sean Patrick Maloney, and Mark Takano; Oregon Governor Kate Brown and former California Assembly Speaker John Perez. Other super delegates pledged to Clinton include activist and Chicago Cubs co-owner Laura Ricketts, and teachers union leader Randi Weingarten.
In the six states that voted Tuesday, Clinton won four: California, New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota. According to a New York Times tally, that gave her a total of 2,184 delegates earned in the primaries. Adding in 571 super delegates, she now has 2,755 delegate votes.
Sanders won the Montana primary and the North Dakota caucus on Tuesday, and now has a total of 1,852 – 1,804 earned in primaries plus 48 super delegates. While Sanders blamed Clinton’s lopsided super delegate support on her “establishment” status, it may also be due, at least in part, to the fact that he was not a member of the Democratic Party during his terms in Congress.
In a speech to supporters in Santa Monica, California, at 10:45 p.m. California time, Sanders said his campaign would “continue the fight” in the next, and final, Democratic primary, June 14, in Washington, D.C., and would continue to fight for “every vote and every delegate.”
Sanders sent mixed messages Tuesday about how vigorously he would continue his fight for the nomination. He surprised many when he said during his middle-of-the-night speech Tuesday that he had called Clinton “and congratulated her on her victory tonight,” an act most candidates resort to only after they have decided to leave a race. But Sanders also said during that same speech that he would take his “fight for justice” -not his fight for the nomination- to the convention in Philadelphia next month. He has also asked, and received approval Tuesday, for a meeting with President Obama on Thursday. And earlier in the evening, the New York Times reported that Sanders campaign sources said his campaign would be laying off at least half of his staff.
Sanders camp disses Barney Frank
The Sanders campaign has been focusing its attention on late May polls that showed he could beat Trump by a more sizeable margin than Clinton could. A Quinnipiac University poll showed Sanders would beat Trump by nine points; Clinton by only four (with a margin of error of 2.5).
Armed with this information, the Sanders camp went to war in the past week with “the entire Democratic establishment,” including Barney Frank, the openly gay former Congressman and a co-chair of the Rules Committee for the Democratic National Convention.
Frank has been a supporter of Clinton since the start of the primary season. In a May 27 letter to the Democratic National Committee, the Sanders campaign called Frank and the other co-chair of the Rules Committee “aggressive attack surrogates” for Clinton and said they harbor “political and personal hostility” against Sanders. The letter also said Frank’s “animosity” toward Sanders “dates back decades” and it called for his removal as Rules Committee co-chair. Convention officials said there was no evidence Frank or the other co-chair had violated any rules of the convention.
Last Thursday, on MSNBC’s Hard Ball, Frank said his role in the convention is a very small one, primarily focused on parliamentary procedure.
With only 45 delegate votes left to be divided up -in D.C.’s primary June 14- Sanders strategy can now rely only on convincing super delegates pledged to Clinton to switch their support to him. Some openly LGBT super delegates have yet to declare who they will vote for. They include U.S. Reps. Mark Pocan of Wisconsin and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, DNC official Andy Tobias, former state Rep. Glen Maxey of Texas, and state party chairman Ray Buckley of New Hampshire.
Although he’s not saying it, common sense also suggests Sanders is probably hoping that sometime between now and the convention, Clinton will be saddled with a scandal too difficult to overcome. And some media reports are beginning to analyze the likelihood of Sanders making a third party bid.
A third option emerges
But a third party bid by Sanders seems very unlikely now that the Libertarian Party has put forth an unusually strong third party ticket: two former Republican governors.
Some gay Republicans and perhaps Bernie Sanders supporters may be pondering whether to support Gary Johnson of New Mexico and William Weld of Massachusetts, who were voted onto the Libertarian Party ticket over the Memorial Day weekend.
Some political observers believe the ticket could potentially siphon support away from Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump, and some believe it may appeal to Bernie Sanders supporters who are bitter over his loss to Clinton.
Johnson and Weld, both fairly strong pro-gay supporters, could attract LGBT Republicans and even some Democrats.
Gregory Angelo, president of the national Log Cabin Republicans group, said he knows of a number of gay Republicans who plan to vote for the Johnson-Weld ticket. And that’s no surprise, he said.
“Every election cycle there is always potential for a Libertarian presidential candidate to attract gay Republican voters,” said Angelo.
The Libertarian Party has a fairly strong pro-gay history. Its first presidential nominee, in 1972, was a gay man, and the party took pro-gay positions before the Democratic Party did.
When Johnson ran for the Republican nomination in 2012, he supported the right of same-sex couples to marry, called the National Organization for Marriage’s “Marriage Vow” statement “offensive,” and said that discriminating against people “for the way they were born” was un-American. After Republicans settled on Mitt Romney as their nominee, Johnson switched to Libertarian, became the nominee, and won 1.5 million votes in the 2012 general election.
Rich Tafel, former head of the national Log Cabin Republicans group, said he thinks the Johnson-Weld ticket may appeal to some gay Republicans and that it “isn’t much of a stretch.”
“I do think they offer an alternative that some gay Republicans are interested in. Many gay Republicans are more libertarian in their outlook, so this isn’t much of stretch.”
But in the “hyper-partisan culture” that exists today, said Tafel, many gay Republicans “will line up with the Republican party at the end of the day.”
And some media were reporting Tuesday night that many Sanders’ supporters were angry that Associated Press had made calls to super delegates to ask who they would vote for in order to be able to report Monday that Clinton had enough delegates to win the nomination. That anger could make it hard for some Sanders supporters -many of who are young and new to presidential politics – to stand with the Democratic Party come November.
A national poll of 808 registered voters taken by Investor’s Business Daily May 31-June 5 found only 11 percent support for Johnson. Most were for Clinton (39 percent) or Trump (35 percent).
In nationwide polls taken just prior to Tuesday’s primaries, Clinton held a sizeable lead (14 points) over Sanders among registered Democratic voters. And Reuters poll in early June showed Clinton surging 11 points ahead of Trump.
And a Gallup poll in mid-May showed voters think Clinton would be far better than Trump in “treatment of minority groups in this country (67 percent to 29 percent),” and “social issues such as gay marriage and abortion” (64 to 31).
GOP reeling behind Trump
After real estate mogul Donald Trump won enough delegates to become the Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee, many Republican leaders began slowly climbing aboard his brash bandwagon to November. House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Leader Mitch McConnell each endorsed Trump, while simultaneously speaking out against many of the things Trump has said and done. He’s said that Japan “might be better off” if it had nuclear weapons to defend itself against North Korea. He’s said that he wants to bar Muslims from entering the U.S. And he wants to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico to keep immigrants out.
But the wheels on the Trump bandwagon appeared to come loose this week as Trump doubled down on his insistence that a federal judge should recuse himself from a civil trial involving Trump because the judge is of Mexican descent. The litigation against Trump claims Trump University was guilty of fraud. Trump said the fact that he plans on “build a wall” between the U.S.-Mexican border makes it an “inherent conflict of interest” for the judge to preside over his trial.
By Tuesday evening, the fallout over Trump’s remarks about the judge prompted the candidate to re-couch his position. In a statement released to the press, Trump claimed his earlier comments had been “misconstrued” as an attack on people of Mexican descent. But what he was really trying to do, said Trump, is point out that “unfair and mistaken rulings” by the judge gave Trump reason to question the judge’s impartiality, given Trump’s well-publicized plans to block immigrants from Mexican.
Speaker Ryan said Tuesday that Trump’s comments about the judge “the textbook definition of a racist comment” and were “absolutely unacceptable.” And U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) issued a statement saying Trump’s statements about the judge were “dead wrong” and that Trump doesn’t have the temperament to be president.