- The Washington Times - Friday, July 8, 2016

Democratic strategist Dave “Mudcat” Saunders, who’s helped guide politicians such as Sen. Mark Warner and former Sen. Jim Webb to victory in Virginia, says he’s voting for presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump over likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

“I don’t know about polls, but I do know this: I voted for Bernie in the primary and I’m voting for Trump in the general,” Mr. Saunders, who is based in the Roanoke, Virginia, area, told The Washington Times Friday.

“I’m an economic populist,” Mr. Saunders said. “I’m in an area that is completely devastated by Clinton trade policies, repeal of Glass-Steagall, and I can go on and on and on and on.”

“And I don’t believe in economic rehabilitation,” he said. “Either you’re an economic populist and you’re for working people and the middle class, or you’re not. And Hillary Clinton has never been for working-class people. She just never has been.”

Mr. Saunders worked on Mr. Warner’s 2001 campaign for governor in Virginia, and also advised the 2006 U.S. Senate campaign of Mr. Webb, who mounted a brief run for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.

He was also an adviser to former Sen. John Edwards’ 2008 presidential campaign.

But in 2013, Mr. Saunders said he was pulling for former state attorney general Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, a Republican, against Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe in that year’s governor’s race. Mr. McAuliffe is a major supporter and longtime personal friend of both Mrs. Clinton and former President Clinton.

Mr. Saunders’ comments come amid reports that Sen. Bernard Sanders could formally endorse Mrs. Clinton as early as next week.

Asked if he thinks Mr. Sanders should endorse Mrs. Clinton or if the Vermont senator should take the contest to the Democratic convention, Mr. Saunders said: “I don’t think anybody ought to endorse Clinton — any Democrat. I don’t get it.”

He did say Mr. Sanders is trying to push for policy items in areas like the minimum wage and free college tuition.

“I fully expect him to endorse Hillary, which doesn’t turn me against Bernie at all because he’s getting what he wants,” Mr. Saunders said. “I understand what he’s doing.”

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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