Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), one of very few national political figures who campaigned with defeated Kansas congressional candidate James Thompson, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that Democrats should have done more to win Thompson’s race.
“In Kansas, it is true that the Democratic candidate lost,” Sanders said. “It is true that the Democratic Party should have put more resources into that election. But it is also true that he ran 20 points better than the Democratic candidate for president did in Kansas.”
The comment, set up with a short monologue about President Trump breaking his promises to working-class voters, made news for its apparent criticism of the Democrats. At Politico, the headline was “Sanders: Democrats should have put more into Kansas special.” At the Hill, it was “Sanders: Dems didn’t do enough in Kansas special election.”
Monday, however, Sanders will begin a week-long speaking tour with Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez. The tour will skip over places that will soon hold special elections — Sanders is looking for a separate time to campaign for Montana’s Rob Quist — although it will hit Omaha for a rally with the Democrat trying to reclaim city hall.
One possible goal of the tour is to heal some divisions between the party’s base and its beltway leadership groups. After Thompson’s loss, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee came in for vehement criticism for staying out of the race, issuing a memo afterward only about the gains local Democrats made. Sanders’s campaign group Our Revolution had endorsed Thompson but spent just $900 on direct contributions to an outspent campaign.
“So, what you’re seeing in Kansas, what you’re seeing in Georgia, I believe you’re going to see it in Montana, I believe you’re going to see it all over this country; in the many so-called red states, working people are going to wake up and say, wait a second,” said Sanders. “Republicans want to cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and education, and they want to give hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks to the top 1 percent.”