The Associated Press
Posted at 7:03 am CT January 16, 2020 | Update 7:10 a.m. CT January 16, 2020
MADISON – Representative Mark Pocan, who did not support anyone in the 2016 Wisconsin Democratic presidential primary, announced Thursday that he approved Bernie Sanders, giving Vermont senator a boost in the battlefield state three months before elementary school.
Sanders and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren fought to win the Liberal wing of the Democratic Party and Pocan’s approval is a big score for Sanders in Wisconsin.
“I have enormous respect for Elizabeth Warren,” Pocan told the Associated Press in an interview. “I just think that not only do families have very close ties to Bernie Sanders, but that electibility is very important.”
Pocan, who will also chair the Sanders ’Wisconsin campaign, is one of the most liberal members of Congress and co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. He said he decided to approve this year because he thought Sanders had a strong connection to his beliefs and the best chance of winning.
“We really can’t accept another term from Donald Trump,” said Pocan. “To me, Bernie Sanders is the strongest candidate we have in the running, the most eligible and the most likely to beat Donald Trump.”
Sanders won all but one of 72 Wisconsin counties in 2016, beating Hillary Clinton by 13 points. Pocan voted for Sanders and did not endorse Clinton until after the primary final in June of the same year, after she became the alleged candidate. Clinton then lost to Trump in Wisconsin by less than 23,000 votes. Trump’s victory marked the first time since 1984 that a Republican presidential candidate has worn the state.
Pocan’s announcement came two days after Trump organized a rally in downtown Milwaukee, just down the arena where Democrats will meet for the national convention in July to choose their candidate. Wisconsin is part of the “blue wall” of states, including Michigan and Pennsylvania, which Trump narrowly won in 2016 but which Democrats are focusing on recovery this year.
Pocan is the first delegation from the Wisconsin Democratic Congress to endorse anyone in the presidential race this year. Pocan is well known to Wisconsin Democrats, having served in the State Legislative Assembly representing Madison for 14 years before being elected to Congress in 2012.
Pocan said he will immediately put his state knowledge to work for Sanders, as well as his campaign for him in the states with the primary primaries to come.
A poll from Marquette University law school released Wednesday showed that former vice president Joe Biden led the Democrats with 23 percent support. Sanders was next with 19% followed by South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg with 15% and Warren with 14% support.
Pocan said Sanders would generate more enthusiasm in Wisconsin than Biden and better appeal to students, women and independent voters.
“When this lead voter arrives, he wants to find out who will bring the turnout, who has the best chance of winning,” said Pocan. “I don’t think Joe Biden is going to do this.”
Wisconsin primary is April 7.
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