Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, speaks during a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by CNN/New York Times at Otterbein University, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, in Westerville, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Democrats haven’t been too kind to Hawaii Rep. Tusli Gabbard. Ever since she took down California’s Sen. Kamala Harris, she’s had a target on her back, with wild accusations being thrown her way such as being a “Russian asset.”
Recently, as my colleague Thomas LaDuke covered, Gabbard announced that she won’t be seeking reelection for her seat in congress, and instead, putting all her efforts into running for President.
It’s pretty clear, however, that Gabbard isn’t going to win the 2020 nomination from the Democrats, but some Democrats fear that in light of this obvious fact, Gabbard may continue her campaign under a different banner, and go for a third party run. Despite Gabbard not being anywhere near the front of the pack, she is somewhat popular, and Democrats fear that her third-party run would subtract from the total number of Democrat voters.
According to The Hill, strategists are expressing their worries:
Some party strategists and operatives fear that a third-party bid by the Hawaii congresswoman could fracture parts of the electorate and stir chaos in the 2020 contest, ultimately setting the stage for President Trump’s reelection.
The criticisms are particularly pointed from people in former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s orbit.
“She has absolutely zero path to becoming the Democratic nominee, so what is she doing?” said Adam Parkhomenko, a Democratic strategist and former aide to Clinton, the party’s 2016 presidential nominee. “To say that she’s going to take her campaign all the way to the convention just suggests that she’s trying to create chaos.”
Other Democrats have expressed their worries as well according to The Hill:
“I think the possibility of [Gabbard] running as a third party is very, very real and it should concern all of us,” one DNC member said. “Look what Jill Stein did to Hillary Clinton. She was the difference in three states.”
Despite Gabbard’s insistence that she has ruled out a third-party campaign, some Democrats remain skeptical. Sellers said there was still plenty of time for the congresswoman to change her mind.
“I don’t trust anything she says in that regard,” Sellers said. “I think we’ve seen that before, but I think many of the concerns that Hillary Clinton and myself had about congresswoman Gabbard are proving to be true and I think that’s unfortunate.”
This is an echo of things Clinton herself has said previously. The failed 2016 candidate once indirectly made the wild accusation that Gabbard was being groomed for a third party run. A spokesperson later confirmed that Clinton was speaking about Gabbard.
“I’m not making any predictions, but I think they’ve got their eye on somebody who’s currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate,” said Clinton to the Campaign HQ podcast.
Despite their fears, Gabbard herself has made it very clear that she has no intention of seeking a third-party run, but in the event that she did, Democrats would definitely have a problem on their hands.
As of right now, Gabbard is polling with an approval average of 12.5 according to Real Clear Politics. Miniscule in terms of the big picture, but between Gabbard, the Green Party’s Jill Stein, and possibly others who may jump into the race, such as Dick’s Sporting Goods CEO Ed Stack, leftist figures could nickel and dime the Democrats into another election loss.
As of right now, it’s already not looking good for Democrats as is. One more pebble in their shoe would spell doom, and Gabbard has proven to be a pretty big pebble.