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Hopeful Southern Democrats fear Sanders resurgence will prove fatal

Party has chance of winning several governorships, but not if the hardline left takes over

Hopeful Southern Democrats fear Sanders resurgence will prove fatal

With 27 GOP-controlled governorships up for election in 2018, national Democrats envision the midterm elections as a chance to rebalance the scales at the state level, where there are currently twice as many Republican governors as Democrats.

But already, party leaders are running into a complication — unresolved issues left over from the Hillary Clinton-Bernie Sanders presidential primary. Far from defeated, Sanders-aligned progressives are nationalizing their fight, showing less patience than ever for Democrats who don’t agree with them. And that’s generating fear and nervousness in the South — in places like Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee — where some promising Democratic candidates who are looking at running statewide in 2018 could face resistance from the left.

“Here’s the challenge in many Southern states now: You have a more liberal primary base, because the more moderate voters are less likely to participate in Southern primaries, so it makes it more dicey. That certainly presents an opportunity for candidates who want to make a point rather than win an election — those candidates are less likely to be successful in a general election,” said South Carolina’s last Democratic governor, Jim Hodges. “In Southern states, you’re going to need candidates who have more moderate stances to be successful."

No Sanders-wing candidates have declared their candidacies yet in these Southern races. But the ambitions of Sanders' post-presidential political operation, Our Revolution — and the wake of the Tom Perez-Keith Ellison proxy battle for the Democratic National Committee chairmanship — has establishment-oriented Democrats worried about the prospect of grueling primaries or policy litmus tests in a region where the party can least afford to be divided.

“It is critical to recognize that there is a different set of policy issues in the Deep South that are not in play in the coastal areas or the West,” said Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, a likely 2018 gubernatorial candidate, pointing to organized labor’s historic economic centrality in parts of the Midwest, and its relative absence in the South, as an example.

This article continues at [Politico] Governors races test Democrats' rift

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