Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks at a Super Tuesday campaign event in Los Angeles, March 3, 2020. (JTA/MARIO TAMA/GETTY)
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks at a Super Tuesday campaign event in Los Angeles, March 3, 2020. (JTA/MARIO TAMA/GETTY)

Super Tuesday: Biden slows Bernie surge, picks up Bloomberg endorsement

Joe Biden beat expectations on Super Tuesday, the biggest primary day in the Democratic presidential stakes, slowing the surge of Bernie Sanders and becoming the front-runner.

Mike Bloomberg, the former New York mayor who ran a self-funded campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, dropped out of the race the day on Wednesday after saying he was reassessing his campaign after performing poorly the first time his name appeared on ballots. Sanders, the Vermont senator, and Bloomberg are Jewish.

The race now seems a clear choice between former Vice President Biden as its moderate flag-bearer, and Sanders leading among progressives.

Biden is now in the lead in the delegate count after 14 states, American Samoa and Democrats Abroad ran primaries. He has a total of 390 of the 1,991 delegates a candidate needs to win the nomination, according to a count by The New York Times. Sanders has 330 and Bloomberg has 12.

Biden won nine of the 14 states in contention, including a surprise victory in delegate-rich Texas, where Sanders had set up a strong ground team. Sanders won three states and looked set to win California, the largest state voting Tuesday. Bloomberg, a media magnate who has spent at least $500 million on his campaign, came away with a clear win only in American Samoa, where he won half of his six delegates.

Sanders’ victories in New Hampshire and Nevada and his strong showing in Iowa, the first nominating contest, had seemed to put the wind at his back. But Biden swept South Carolina last week, a state where the majority of Democratic primary voters are African-American. That win and the rapid-fire endorsements from three former presidential candidates who had dropped out set him up for his major upset victory. Bloomberg did not participate in the first four ballots before Super Tuesday.

“I’ve always believed that defeating Donald Trump starts with uniting behind the candidate with the best shot to do it,” Bloomberg said in a statement. “After yesterday’s vote, it is clear that candidate is my friend and a great American, Joe Biden.”

Bloomberg, a media magnate and one of the wealthiest Americans, spent at least $500 million on his campaign, but was not on the ballot for the first several nominating contests, only coming on when 14 states, a territory and Democrats Abroad went to primaries on Tuesday. He picked up just 12 delegates, six of them in American Samoa.

Even while he was running, Bloomberg said he would pledge his resources to oust Trump, no matter who the candidate is.

Bloomberg’s departure essentially whittles the race down to two candidates: Biden, the former vice president, and Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator. Sanders and Bloomberg are Jewish.

Still in the race despite no outright wins are Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii.

Ron Kampeas

JTA D.C. bureau chief