- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Sen. Bernard Sanders stands poised to remain a fly in the ointment for former Vice President Joseph R. Biden and the Democratic Party.

Despite the lackluster performance of his presidential run since Super Tuesday, the avowed democratic socialist has beefed up his presence in Mr. Biden’s birth state of Pennsylvania.

The Vermont senator opened five offices in the state and filled them with about 20 staffers last week, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. The campaign acknowledged the offices may be short-lived because of the spread of the coronavirus and the campaign’s transition to digital outreach through virtual rallies and town halls.

Mr. Biden laid claim to Pennsylvania by locating his campaign headquarters in Philadelphia. He claims his ties to his boyhood home of Scranton and kinship with the state’s blue-collar voters will help him defeat President Trump in that crucial battleground in November.

Pennsylvania’s Democratic presidential primary is scheduled for April 28.

As Mr. Biden builds a virtually insurmountable lead in the delegate race to clinch the nomination, the party establishment has increased pressure on Mr. Sanders to bow out.

So far, he’s not going anywhere, despite his continued presence in the race exacerbating a divide within the Democratic Party and making it more difficult to unify the party ahead of the November general election.

The jabs between the party’s far-left and establishment factions also provide ammunition to Mr. Trump and Republicans.

After losing primaries in Illinois, Florida and Arizona on Tuesday, Mr. Sanders’s campaign has said it is reassessing its efforts but then shot down reports that he is suspending his presidential campaign.

Reports about Mr. Sanders ending his bid spiked online Wednesday after the news website Axios reported that he was suspending his campaign, which appears to have led other outlets, including Fox Business, to inaccurately report that he is calling it quits.

Axios later issued a correction, saying he had suspended some Facebook ads.

The Sanders campaign said the 78-year-old is reassuring his campaign.

Asked whether the reports were true, Sanders national co-chair Nina Turner told The Washington Times, “Absolutely not.”

Fernand Amandi, a managing partner of the public opinion research and consulting firm Bendixen & Amandi, noted Mr. Sanders stayed in the race in 2016 longer against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton because he was still winning primaries late in the game.

“Bernie has no rationale to continue running whatsoever and he only invites greater scorn,” Mr. Amandi said. “He will get out of the race. The only question is when because every additional day and hour he stays in the race he prevents Joe Biden from formally being able to take control.”

Several states have decided to push back their primary dates in the wake of the COVID-19 spread, prolonging the party’s nomination process.

Ohio, Maryland, Kentucky, Georgia, and Louisiana are some of the states that have pushed back their election dates.

G. Terry Madonna, the director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin and Marshall College, said the extension of some primaries could affect when Mr. Sanders steps aside.

“I don’t know if Sanders looks at the change in the primary dates will have some long-term meaning for him,” Mr. Madonna said, adding it is “hard to find a way in which he can win. You just can’t find a way.”

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