The Democratic National Committee voted Friday to change its rules and bar anyone from running for the party’s 2020 presidential nomination without being a Democrat at the time of announcing one’s candidacy.
In 2016, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) ran an unexpectedly competitive primary campaign against Hillary Clinton despite being an independent, and the DNC’s rules and bylaws committee appears to have this in mind with the new rule, Yahoo News reports. Sanders’ supporters are interpreting the move as a sign of spite.
“We just came off a devastating presidential loss in 2016. It would seem to me the actual impetus would be to expand the Democratic party. I just for the life of me don’t see any motivation for this beyond personal spite,” said Mark Longabaugh, who was a senior adviser to Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign.
Sanders is an independent who has identified as a democratic socialist and caucuses with the Democratic Party in the Senate. His 2016 presidential campaign claimed he would become a Democrat “for life,” but he ultimately decided not to join up, remaining an independent in the Senate.
The rule may not affect Sanders himself if he does decide to run in 2020, however. He has typically chosen to run for the Democratic Party’s nomination in Vermont Senate races to fend off Democratic opponents and then has declined the Democratic nomination, running in the general election as an independent. The Vermont Democratic Party has supported this strategy and ruled he enjoys the “rights and privileges” of a party member.