Sanders Supporters in DNC Worry They’ll Be ‘Purged’ by Party Establishment

DNC Chair Tom Perez / Getty
DNC chair Tom Perez / Getty

Tensions between the Democratic Party's establishment and its left-wing base continue to emerge, and some members worry about a purge of supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.).

The left wing of the party has viewed the DNC with skepticism for years, and several top Democrats joined Sanders in supporting Rep. Keith Ellison (D., Minn.) for chairman in hopes of easing tension between the "Bernie wing" and the rest of the party the Washington Post reported. A Sanders supporter and longtime DNC member James Zogby was ousted from the executive committee and is especially pessimistic about a purge.

"It’s a lot of really good people who deserved better," Zogby said. "I’d say they’re making way for new blood, but it’s not that at all. We were Keith Ellison supporters. The optics of it are bad."

Perez's victory has complicated plans to ease tensions between the factions. Sanders had floated giving his email list to the DNC with an Ellison-run DNC, but he has not given them to Perez.

Some Ellison supporters expressed their discontent to the Post.

New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley paused for almost ten seconds when asked about Perez's leadership, and then praised him tentatively.

"I think that running the DNC is an enormous challenge and bringing in an entirely new team who didn’t actually have a history within the party itself made it a little harder, because there wasn’t that natural understanding," said Buckley. "What we’re hoping is that things will get better. We’re believing that the sun will come out tomorrow."

The DNC's Unity Commission, created by a 2016 deal between Clinton and Sanders, is tasked with finding ways to reform the Democratic primaries. Many Sanders supporters were bothered by the ability of so-called superdelegates to vote without being bound to the results of a given primary.

But its recommendations will be assessed by the Rules and Bylaws Committee which is dominated by Clinton supporters. Zogby does not have confidence that the committee will enact the changes he finds necessary.

"I won't be there to see it," he said in an interview before walking back for hugs from people who said they were sad to see him go.

"It feels like a wake," he added.