Political News

Rep. Jim Clyburn says Democrats are concerned about 'down-ballot carnage'

Posted February 28, 2020 10:10 a.m. EST

— Prominent South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn said Friday that Democrats are concerned about picking a nominee who "would cause down-ballot carnage" as progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders' current lead in the primaries causes concerns to ripple through the Democratic Party about the effect a self-declared Democratic socialist would have on candidates running for lower office.

"That's our biggest problem of my members. We want to see somebody on the ticket that will allow us to expand our numbers, not having to run some kind of a rear guard campaign in order to keep from being tarnished with a label. So our candidates are really concerned about that," Clyburn told CNN's John Berman on "New Day."

CNN previously reported that some House Democrats have already expressed significant unease at the prospect of sharing a national ticket Sanders.

"I think it would have some significant down-ballot effects, and what I tell everybody is he may well win the popular vote," freshman Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota told CNN's Manu Raju earlier this month.

Clyburn, the highest-ranking African American in Congress and who's an influential figure in South Carolina politics, endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday.

Clyburn pointed to the past presidential bid of Democratic nominee and liberal George McGovern in 1972 in which there was a lot of "excitement" but ultimately McGovern ended up only winning one state -- Massachusetts -- and the District of Columbia in the general election.

"Well, I tell people all the time: the history ought to instruct us," he said. "So what we've got to be careful of is not coming out of the convention with everybody on the same page. Not with a couple people yelling loud about how excited they are about a victory on the floor and then lose the country."

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