2020 hopeful Pete Buttigieg protested his third-place finish in Nevada’s Democratic caucuses Saturday, citing “errors” in the count.
While acknowledging Bernie Sanders’ overwhelming victory at the ballot box, the Buttigieg campaign called on the state’s Democratic Party to explain over 200 alleged issues with the vote count, the Associated Press reported. Without requesting a recount, the Buttigieg campaign claimed the former small-town mayor is vying for second place, which he lost to Joe Biden by an allegedly “razor-thin margin.”
“Currently our data shows that this is a razor-thin margin for second place in Nevada, and due to irregularities and a number of unresolved questions we have raised with the Nevada Democratic Party, it’s unclear what the final results will be,” Buttigieg’s deputy campaign manager, Hari Sevugan, said in a statement, according to the AP.
“Errors” and “inconsistencies”
Sanders won the caucuses handily with nearly 50% of the vote, solidifying his frontrunner status to the panicked alarm of the Democratic establishment and moderate rivals like Buttigieg, who had his most disappointing finish of the primaries so far on Saturday. The former mayor received just two delegates and roughly 14% of the vote with more than 90% of districts reporting, according to The New York Times.
The Buttigieg campaign subsequently sent a letter to the state’s party complaining of “inconsistencies” having to do with early voting and other issues. Buttigieg demanded a detailed vote breakdown, but Nevada Democrats have said that Buttigieg needs to request a formal recount if he’s going to dispute the results.
“As laid out in our recount guidance, there is a formal method for requesting a challenge of results,” Nevada Democratic Party spokeswoman Molly Forgey told the AP. Buttigieg reportedly has until 5 p.m. on Monday to make such a request.
Buttigieg blasts Bernie
Despite his dismal finish in Nevada, Buttigieg is still the leading moderate candidate by delegate count after finishing second in New Hampshire and tying for first in Iowa’s inconclusive caucuses with Sanders. He has presented himself as a compromise candidate between the radical socialism of Sanders and the “oligarchy” of billionaire Mike Bloomberg, who has been accused of trying to buy the nomination.
But speculation has long circled that Buttigieg will struggle with minority voters, and Nevada’s caucuses — which came after primary battles in the mostly white states of Iowa and New Hampshire — provided the first real test. Buttigieg’s Spanish-language pandering didn’t seem to help him very much; Sanders swept the state’s Hispanic voters, who comprise roughly a third of the electorate, according to The Guardian.
Meanwhile, Sanders’ stunning success in Nevada has amplified concerns in the Democratic establishment that it may be too late to stop the democratic-socialist. Buttigieg, for his part, issued a pointed attack on Sanders in his concession speech Saturday, warning that he would alienate large numbers of Americans and lead the party to defeat in November.
“Sen. Sanders sees capitalism as the root of all evil. He’d go beyond reform and reorder the economy in ways most Democrats, let alone most Americans, don’t support,” Buttigieg said, according to The Hill. “Sen. Sanders’s revolution has the tenor of combat, division, and polarization, a vision where whoever wins the day, nothing will change the toxic tone of our politics.”
A party imploding
In a sign of how divisive the party’s civil war has gotten, New York City’s far-left Mayor Bill de Blasio sent out a vulgar tweet Saturday attacking Buttigieg and telling him to “not be so smug when you just got your a** kicked.” Speculation has mounted, in the meantime, of a brokered convention as a packed field of moderates continue to divide up the anti-Sanders vote.
Sanders is the only candidate who has so far pledged to support the nominee — likely him, at this rate — if they win only a plurality, not a majority, of delegates. But it’s likely this primary race will get much uglier before it’s all said and done.