Kind Backs Hillary In Midst of Sanders-Inspired Primary

Rep. Ron Kind (D-La Crosse), a Democrat Party superdelegate, will support Hillary Clinton for president despite a primary challenger’s accusations he’s not looking out for the interests of the Democratic grassroots.

Kind made the announcement at a luncheon in Madison. According to WisPolitics:

In considering the field of presidential candidates, Kind said the Oval Office is no place for “on-the-job-training.”
“And I like her agenda when it comes to expanding and strengthening the middle class,” the La Crosse Dem said. “And I also like her experience when it comes to enhancing our security from threats both abroad and at home.”
The other five Wisconsin superdelegates to back the former secretary of state, according to Clinton’s campaign, are: U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, of Madison; U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, of Milwaukee; and DNC members Christine Bremer Muggli, Michael Childers and Martha Love.

Kind’s announcement comes just as Wisconsin has become the center of the political universe in the run-up to our April 5 primary. While much of the media’s attention has focused on the GOP side, the Democratic primary in Wisconsin is also very interesting – particularly in Kind’s western Wisconsin district.

According to today’s Marquette University poll, Bernie Sanders is actually dominating Clinton in areas of the state that will be choosing between Kind and Buchholz in the fall primary on August 9.

(Again, voters will not choose between Kind and Buchholz on the same day they choose between Clinton and Sanders).

In the “north and west” regions of the state, encompassing Kind’s congressional district, Sanders has 54 percent of Democrats’ support to Clinton’s 42 percent. Statewide, Sanders beats Clinton 49-45.

But thanks to the Democratic Party’s byzantine rules that stack the deck in favor of the party leadership’s preferred choice, Sanders’ support is meaningless. So-called “superdelegates” – high-ranking party leaders and elected officials like Kind – are free to vote for the candidate of their choice regardless of which candidate wins their state.

Even in light of the fact that Democrats in his district will almost certainly choose Sanders by double-digits, Kind is still throwing his superdelegate hat to Hillary. It’s not the first time the Democratic power structure has arranged circumstances, but Kind’s timing raises questions.

Kind’s announcement comes as he faces a primary challenge inspired by Bernie Sanders, retired Eau Claire teacher Myron Buchholz, who criticizes Kind for being too moderate and supporting trade deals that have led to job losses in the district.

In a video lambasting Kind for not looking out for the average working people in the district, Buchholz tied Kind to the Democrat establishment. That establishment has also been trying to lock Buchholz out of the party’s Voter Access Network, the mother load of information about lefties who vote.

If the Sanders-mania remains strong between now and August 9, Buchholz could capitalize. If Sanders supporters believe their candidate gets screwed out of the Democratic nomination during their convention July 25-28, that could inspire a backlash against the party’s superdelegate system, and maybe Kind.

Kind must win his primary convincingly. If Buchholz even comes close, he or others on the left who view Kind as a squishy moderate could be inspired to run against him in a future primary, or – much worse for Kind – on a third party ticket. Considering Republican contenders for Kind’s seat in the past decade have typically been closer to 33 percent of the vote rather than 50, it’s not impossible that a third party challenger could win a plurality in a hypothetical three-way race.

Either Kind’s opponent is right – that Kind does in fact disregard his own party’s grassroots – or that he’s just incredibly confident he will defeat Buchholz by a wide margin.

About the writer: Chris Rochester is editor in chief of Morning Martini. He’s an armchair politico, veteran of several campaigns, and communications specialist. He's the communications director for the MacIver Institute. Commentary here is strictly his own.