Monday, May 4, 2020




          The longer a 26-year-old charge of sexual harassment and groping against former Vice President Joe Biden hangs around despite his denial, the louder grow rumors that a brokered Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee this summer might replace him at the top of its ticket.

          If Democrats don’t anoint Biden, then might they pick California Gov. Gavin Newsom, whose national profile grows larger with each of his daily noon briefings on the COVID-19 plague?

          Of course, this all may be far-fetched. Sexual harassment charges did not harm current President Trump four years ago, not even after myriad replays of his videotaped braggadocio about groping whichever women he liked, whenever he liked. Past womanizing also didn’t stop former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

          No doubt, it would be the pot calling the kettle black if Trump should harp on the charge against Biden when he takes to the post-coronavirus campaign trail. Trump not only has a long line of women making harassment claims and worse against him, but there is strong evidence he paid some off to stifle their complaints.

          But Trump always exhibits considerable Teflon, proof of his prevarications leaving little trace as they wash off him. Meanwhile, nothing has seemed to wash off Biden. Plus, he alienated many women when, as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee during 1991 confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, he minimized sexual harassment complaints by Anita Hill, then a University of Oklahoma law professor.

          So despite his own escapades and Biden’s long record of backing women’s rights, Trump might manage to pull off a sexism accusation against Biden.

          If by August, it appears this could lead to a Biden defeat and a Democratic loss of their congressional majority, America might see its first seriously contested political convention since 1952, when Gen. Dwight Eisenhower bested Ohio Sen. Robert Taft for the Republican nomination.

          Should many Biden delegates become disillusioned, a contest could emerge between the intensely ambitious Newsom and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, most prominent among governors running state responses to the viral pandemic.

 Almost certainly, most convention delegates would not turn to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the primary season’s runner-up. Sanders never demonstrated he can draw much more than 35 percent of the Democratic vote in any primary, major or minor. No Democrat can win in November with so slender a base, no matter how avid his supporters might be.

          Meanwhile, Cuomo, doing daily virus updates in the national media center of New York, gained only a slightly higher profile than Newsom. The California governor appears often on major national TV interview shows and frequently talks with national reporters and columnists, while often ignoring widely circulated pundits in his home state.

          He’s prone to calling California a “nation-state,” seeming to equate his performance and responsibilities during the pandemic to those of presidents and prime ministers. His approval rating sits near 70 percent, despite loud protests against some of his anti-virus tactics and the dispute over his trying to close Orange County beaches. It remains to be seen how he will handle the state’s gradual reopening.

          While Cuomo often says he won’t run for president, Newsom makes no disclaimer. Of course, plenty of politicians who’ve said they don’t plan to run for an office later ended up occupying it. So might Cuomo.

          Newsom would have one big advantage over him in any open convention: With 415 voting delegates on the convention’s first ballot to New York’s 224, Newsom could begin with almost twice as many floor voters as Cuomo, if both state delegations stuck with their favorite sons – a big if in Newsom’s case. It takes 1,991 delegate votes to win the nomination.

          In open balloting, Sanders would likely get enough first-round support to force more voting.

          California would get 79 additional votes from so-called “superdelegates” on subsequent ballots, while New York would add 37. Further advantage to Newsom.

          If Trump is smart and wants to avoid facing a young, bright candidate like Newsom, he might have his surrogates lay off harassment charges against Biden until Biden cements the nomination. But Trump has never exhibited much patience. All of which could see Newsom start next year as president.

    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough, The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It" is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit

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