ATLANTA — Democratic Party insiders say efforts to draft Sen. Bernard Sanders to launch a political party are foolish, doomed to fail and could do more to hurt than help the progressive cause.
The pressure on Mr. Sanders to strike out on his own is intensifying now that former Labor Secretary Tom Perez was elected chairman of the Democratic National Committee, overcoming a stiff challenge from Rep. Keith Ellison and progressive activists who say the party’s primary race last year was rigged against the Vermont independent.
But DNC members gathered here said the efforts including from the Draft Bernie for a People’s Party are misguided.
“He ran for president through the party, did extraordinarily well, better than anybody thought he was going to do, and I think it is incumbent upon him to make sure that his base stays in line with the party to ensure that we win races,” said Dave Halpern, a DNC member from Georgia.
Whether Mr. Sanders can control the movement he launched is another question. Pro-Sanders progressives may have nothing in common ideologically with the tea party, but they are poised to wreak the same kind of intraparty havoc by taking on the Democratic establishment in 2018 or sooner.
Democrats facing re-election next year already are hearing buzz around primary challenges from the left as progressives move to flush out the establishment and put their stamp on the party, just as the tea party did on the Republican Party in 2010 and 2012.