by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The rise of socialist Bernie Sanders is frustrating Never Trump Republicans who are hoping the Democratic Party nominates a consensus, center-left presidential candidate they are comfortable supporting in November. If Sanders is the Democratic nominee, many will sit out the election and be deprived of the opportunity of voting against President Trump, they said.
Sanders is surging days before the Iowa caucuses and a couple of weeks before the New Hampshire primary, leaving Republican operatives avowedly opposed to Trump worried and perplexed. Most are convinced swing voters in key battlegrounds would reject Sanders, paving the way for Trump’s reelection. They are also convinced the Vermont senator, 78, is simply too liberal to earn their vote. With a Sanders nomination, Never Trump Republicans are unsure of what comes next.
“I don’t know where the anti-Trump movement goes from there,” said Jennifer Horn, a Never Trump Republican and former New Hampshire GOP chairwoman who is affiliated with the Lincoln Project, a group of anti-Trump Republicans who have pressured GOP senators to support impeachment.
“It’s a really tough question,” added political strategist Sarah Longwell, a Never Trump Republican at the center of an unsuccessful effort to recruit a formidable candidate to challenge the president in the 2020 GOP primary.
Anti-Trump Republicans are holding out hope for 77-year-old Joe Biden.
The former vice president is a Democrat they can embrace, they said: liberal, but not too far left, and moderate in tone.