Bernie Sanders withdrew from the Democratic race for president on Wednesday morning.
Perhaps he took a hint from the famously progressive Village Independent Democrats club, which just days earlier had voted — remotely, of course — to endorse Joe Biden for the nomination.
“I cannot in good conscience continue to mount a campaign that cannot win and which would interfere with the important work required of all of us in this difficult hour,” Sanders said in a live stream.
In their endorsement vote, announced April 6 — a vote previously postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic — V.I.D. members supported Biden over Sanders by 28 to 12. There were also two votes for “No Endorsement.”
Due to the need for physical distancing, the New York Democratic primary was pushed back from this month to June 23.
Governor Cuomo, by executive order, also has decreed that everyone can request an absentee ballot to vote in the June election, avoiding the need to go to the polls.
However, Sanders’s name will remain on the New York primary ballot.
The New York Times reported: “Though he made it clear that he viewed Mr. Biden as the party’s 2020 nominee, [Sanders] said he would remain on the ballot in states that still have primaries and would continue to gather delegates — a move that would give him leverage to influence the Democratic platform and continue carrying his message.”
On April 2, V.I.D. held its presidential endorsement meeting on Google Zoom. Club President David Siffert ran the virtual meeting, during part of which, 10 members each spoke for one minute, advocating for either candidate.
John Bredin, a staunch Sanders backer, was unwavering in his support for the Vermont senator.
“Especially at a time like this, we have to rethink our entire political structure that got us into the trouble that we’re in,” he said. “I know that Biden is in the lead…but he has also been showing some signs of weakness.”
Cameron Krause, the club’s vice president, spoke for Biden.
“With such low visibility, this election is going to be very, very dangerous,” he warned.
He touted Biden’s past accomplishments, including his track record of having dealt with the ebola virus epidemic.
“For some reason, Bloomberg isn’t buying spots on TV and getting his voice out there like he should be,” Krause added, with concern.
Ron Heilman said voters in the suburbs who backed Elizabeth Warren are switching to Biden “because they feel he’s practical.”
Carla Moskowitz said Sanders should withdraw and push the Democratic Party to adopt “his top 10 points.”
Jim Fouratt spoke for Sanders.
“This is a primary,” he stressed. “The discussion about electability should really happen after the primary.”
He condemned Biden for having publicly come out against “Medicare for All.”
“There’s no reason for him to do that,” he charged.
Former District Leader Keen Berger said she was supporting Biden “very strongly,” though previously had backed Warren.
“I think V.I.D. should keep our eye on the prize, and the prize is for Trump to lose,” she declared.
Tony Hoffmann was “strongly for Joe Biden.”
Allison Greenberg said the former U.S. vice president was the pragmatic choice.
“This club is progressive…also pragmatic,” she said. “Bernie still has not explained how he can pay for Medicare for All — it just doesn’t seem feasible. I don’t think Bernie is the right leader, whether we’re in the time of crisis or not.”
District Leader Jenn Hoppe, who said she had been “like 400 percent behind Elizabeth Warren,” nevertheless said she was now backing Biden.
“I think we’re in for the fight of our lives,” she said, “given Trump has a press conference every day right now and our not even being able to knock on doors.”
Mar Fitzgerald, V.I.D. treasurer, was not high on either candidate, but gave the nod to Biden.
“Really, for me, as a black woman here in America, there really is no difference between two old white guys,” she shrugged. “But there is a difference when the other option is Trump. Also, Bernie’s refusal to step down at this point is a perfect example of why he just shouldn’t be president.”
Irene Kaufman said it’s important to think about, should a Democrat win the presidency, addressing the chaos in Washington.
“It will be important to repopulate the gutted infrastructure of the White House, the diplomats, the Secret Service, the F.B.I.,” she noted. “The number of people that left because of Trump is really huge. Biden is a known quantity and can do that. We need to get the White House up and running.”
V.I.D. member Claudia Canasto, like her husband Bredin, stuck by Sanders.
“Biden will be completely crushed by Trump,” she warned.
Hoffmann also gave an update on voter-turnout efforts in swing districts in the tri-state area. V.I.D. had rented buses — for 29 trips spread over different weekends — to take club members to swing districts with competitive races for Congress and even, in one case, the state Legislature in Pennsylvania. Those plans are now on hold.
“We have to see if we can do any [on the] street campaigning or if it’s only going to be by mail,” he said.
“And when it does end,” Hoffmann said of the COVID pandemic, “we have to figure out whether going door to door is the right thing to do.”