LAS VEGAS — A growing number of Democratic lawmakers, union officials, state leaders and party strategists agree that Bernie Sanders is a risky nominee to put up against President Donald Trump. There’s less agreement about whether — and how — to stop him.
Critics of the Vermont senator, who has long identified as a democratic socialist, are further than they’ve ever been from unifying behind a moderate alternative. None of the viable centrists in the race is eager to exit the campaign to clear a path for a candidate to become a clear counter to Sanders. And Sanders is looking to Saturday’s Nevada caucuses to post another win that would further his status as an early front-runner.
With fear and frustration rising in the party’s establishment wing, a high-stakes math problem is emerging. It could be impossible to blunt Sanders as long as a trio of moderate candidates — former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Vice President Joe Biden and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar — stay in the race. And with former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into the swath of states that vote on Super Tuesday, March 3, the effort to stop Sanders will become even more challenging when the campaign goes national next month.