The Bernie Sanders campaign has filed an official challenge to the credentials of Gov. Daniel Malloy and Barney Frank to serve as chair and co-chair of key committees at the Democratic convention because they are, “aggressive attack surrogates for Clinton.”
In letter to the DNC, Sanders counsel Brad Deutsch wrote:
Both Governor Malloy and Mr. Frank (the “Chairs”) have been harsh, vocal critics of Senator Sanders, and equally active supporters of his challenger, Hillary Clinton. While it is expected, acceptable, and even desirable, that committee members and leaders at the Convention will represent a diversity of political views and presidential preferences, the preferences of party officials must not interfere with the fair and neutral administration of Convention business and procedures.
Governor Malloy and Mr. Frank have both been aggressive attack surrogates for the Clinton campaign. Their criticisms of Senator Sanders have gone beyond dispassionate ideological disagreement and have exposed a deeper professional, political and personal hostility toward the Senator and his Campaign. The Chairs therefore cannot be relied upon to perform their Convention duties fairly and capably while laboring under such deeply held bias. The appointment of two individuals so outspokenly critical of Senator Sanders, and so closely affiliated with Secretary Clinton’s campaign, raises concerns that two of the three Convention Standing Committees are being constituted in an overtly partisan way designed to exclude meaningful input from supporters of Senator Sanders’ candidacy. The Campaign respectfully but emphatically requests, under the qualification standards clause of the Call,l that both Governor Malloy and Mr. Frank be disqualified from their respective positions with the Standing Platform and Rules Committees.
There are a few different ways to look at this development. The big takeaway is that the Sanders campaign is shifting towards fighting to shape the Democratic platform. The change in strategy is another action which indicates that Sanders understands that the fight for who the nominee will be is ending, and he is moving on to what ideas the nominee will run on.
As far as Frank and Malloy are concerned, they have been outspoken Clinton surrogates, and there is merit in the argument that it doesn’t look good to have people who have made their intentions so clear during the primary serving in leadership positions on the committees, but Frank and Malloy aren’t children. They are both experienced leaders, who are capable of putting their advocacy aside and doing a good job.
How the DNC handles the Sanders challenge will provide some fascinating insight into how the convention may unfold. It is clear that the Sanders campaign is going to continue to test the limits of their influence by asking for things. At some point, Sen. Sanders will reach the boundary, and the party will say no.
I suspect the credentials challenge to Frank and Malloy will be that no.