From Bernie Sanders to Marco Rubio, the failed White House hopefuls are looking to shape the 2018 elections and beyond.
By Gabriel Debenedetti
For Sen. Bernie Sanders, who will be 79 years old in 2020, his actions now are as much about expanding the progressive political movement as anything else.
Far from winding down their political operations or retreating from the national scene, the collection of failed 2016 presidential primary hopefuls is cutting a high profile in the early weeks of the Donald Trump era, determined to leverage their newfound national stature for the 2018 elections and beyond.
Bernie Sanders has traveled to states as varied as Mississippi and Massachusetts to advance his message in recent weeks. On Tuesday, the Vermont senator sought to shape the Virginia Democratic governor’s primary by endorsing Tom Perriello. Another Democrat who fell short in the 2016 primary, Martin O’Malley, is also keeping his foot on the gas pedal — he commissioned a 2020 poll of Iowa caucusgoers last month and has campaigned for Democrats across the country in recent state and local races.
On the Republican side, Ohio Gov. John Kasich is planning a return to the early-voting presidential primary state of New Hampshire at the end of the month. Marco Rubio, who won reelection to his Senate seat in 2016 after falling short in the GOP primary, is lending his name to fundraising appeals for Josh Mandel, a challenger to Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, and helping to raise money for Miami mayoral candidate Francis Suarez. He’s also weighed in on behalf of Judson Hill, a candidate for a nationally watched special election contest in Georgia.
In fact, there’s little to indicate the 20-plus former presidential candidates are licking their wounds. Instead, many are busy surveying and mapping the unpredictable new electoral landscape, determined to carve out their place in it with Trump’s unpopular White House serving as the backdrop. For Sanders, who will be 79 years old in 2020, it’s as much about expanding his progressive political movement as anything else. For others, the moves are an attempt to springboard off their 2016 campaigns and maintain a national presence at a time of great turmoil within both parties.