Progressive groups that endorsed Elizabeth Warren are now pushing members toward Bernie Sanders

"We were lucky to have two progressive giants in this race."

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a former Democratic presidential candidate, listens to questions during a news conference in front of her house in Cambridge, Mass., March 5, 2020. Warren announced her exit from the presidential primary during the conference and did not immediately endorse another candidate. (David Degner/The New York Times)
Sen. Elizabeth Warren listens to questions during a news conference Thursday in front of her house in Cambridge. –David Degner / The New York Times

Sen. Elizabeth Warren may not be making an immediate endorsement in the Democratic primary race, but some of the progressive groups that were early supporters of her campaign aren’t waiting to weigh in.

The Working Families Party, a labor-aligned group that endorsed Warren’s campaign in September, announced Monday that it will now back Sen. Bernie Sanders, after the Massachusetts senator dropped out of the 2020 presidential race last week. In an email to supporters, the group cited the Vermont senator’s “lifelong” advocacy for progressive causes, while commiserating about Warren’s exit.

“She ran a groundbreaking campaign, and this contest is poorer for her leaving it,” the email said.

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The Working Families Party expounded on the subject in a series of tweets Monday afternoon, adding that the end of Warren’s campaign has “been painful — enraging, sad — for many.” But in a race against former president Joe Biden, the group said that Sanders is “our best hope to move Warren’s policy ideas forward.”

“We were lucky to have two progressive giants in this race,” they wrote in the email to supporters. “But with the field narrowing and critical contests coming up in the next few weeks, we believe the choice for working families is clear.”

The endorsement isn’t a complete surprise; after all, the Working Families Party endorsed Sanders during his first presidential primary campaign in 2016. But it’s the latest move by progressive groups that backed Warren to urge support for Sanders as establishment Democrats, including former 2020 candidates, increasingly coalesce around Biden.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which led a campaign to draft Warren to run for Senate in 2012 and endorsed her presidential campaign on the day she officially announced last February, sent an email Sunday to its 15,767 members in Michigan urging them to “strategically” vote for Sanders in the state’s primary Tuesday to “let the contest continue instead of prematurely coronating Biden.”

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While they didn’t endorse Sanders, the PCCC said voting for him would “ensure both remaining Democratic candidates are tested so we know the eventual nominee can go the distance.”

“We are still heartbroken that Elizabeth Warren is no longer running for president,” they wrote. “As she decides her next steps — space she deserves as she gives the thoughtfulness we’d expect from Elizabeth Warren — we have not yet supported another candidate.”

The not-quite endorsement of Sanders, who is slightly behind Biden in the delegate race, was mirrored Monday by the group Black Womxn For, which endorsed Warren in November. While the group of influential black women activists didn’t expressly voice support for Sanders, they reminded followers on Twitter of the anti-Biden campaign they launched last fall.

For her part, after announcing the suspension of her campaign, Warren told reporters Thursday that she wanted to “take some time to think a little more” before making an endorsement. While she is more ideologically aligned with Sanders, their relationship became strained as campaigning intensified, and Warren recently told MSNBC that the “organized nastiness” and bullying by some of his supporters was a “real problem.” Meanwhile, she has a fraught history with Biden dating back two decades over a bankruptcy bill he supported over her vocal opposition.

“Why would I owe anybody an endorsement?” Warren told The Boston Globe after dropping out. “Is that a question they asked everybody else who dropped out of this race?”

In a surprise appearance on “Saturday Night Live” this past weekend, she joked that “maybe I’ll just pull a New York Times and endorse them both.”

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