‘Bernie’s proposals to raise taxes on almost everyone is not something the Lowcountry wants and not something I’d ever support…’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) One of the most politically vulnerable Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives predictably disavowed socialist primary front-runner Bernie Sanders.
Joe Cunningham, D-SC, was one of several congressional Democrats to flip Republican districts during the 2018 election.
Along with House Democratic Whip James Clyburn (a much celebrated icon of the black community), Cunningham is currently one of only two Democrats in the Palmetto State’s congressional delegation.
After winning the seat once occupied by NeverTrump Republican Mark Sanford—the state’s disgraced ex-governor, who lost his re-election in the primary—Cunningham has seemed to be even more supportive of Trump than his GOP predecessor.
He called for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to put the border wall to vote, and he was one of several Democrats who hesitated on impeachment, although he ultimately acquiesced to the demands of the party.
Although Cunningham declined to make an endorsement for the upcoming South Carolina primary on Feb. 29, he made clear the candidate—or candidates—he was not supporting.
““South Carolinians don’t want socialism,” Cunningham said, according to Charleston’s The Post and Courier.
“We want to know how you are going to get things done and how you are going to pay for them,” he continued. “Bernie’s proposals to raise taxes on almost everyone is not something the Lowcountry wants and not something I’d ever support.”
Cunningham likely had his own political survival in mind as much as anything.
Vulnerable Democrats nationwide have expressed alarm that a Sanders nomination could lead moderate Democrats to sit-out the election, assuring a Trump victory while also potentially returning the House GOP to majority control.
Evoking his district’s heritage as site of the first shots fired during the Civil War, Cunningham pledged to “defend our Lowcountry values of opportunity, pragmatism and common sense.”
But tapping into another Democratic anxiety—or for supporters of a dark-horse candidate, perhaps a wish—Cunningham also hinted that even if Bernie were to win the most pledged delegates, the party might block his nomination.
Some have speculated that a split decision between the far-left Vermont senator and other candidates—including former mayors Pete Buttigieg and Michael Bloomberg, and former Vice President Joe Biden—could result in a brokered convention in which elite super-delegates play an outsize role in the final selection.
Then again, as with impeachment, Cunningham may have simply been trying to duck an uncomfortable no-win hypothetical when asked if he would support Bernie as the eventual nominee.
“Bernie Sanders will not be the nominee,” he replied.