As for Ossoff, Flores said, the candidate "has not taken a definitive stance on some progressive issues" including advocating a single-payer universal health care system, or raising the minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour, and believes that "may be part of the problem for Senator Sanders."
Flores added: "To a certain extent, I feel like we’re holding, and in some cases rightly so, Sanders to a higher standard and viewing him as the standard-bearer for progressivism in this country, but you have to remember there are all kinds of reasons why people decide to endorse or not endorse, and just because you endorse a candidate does not mean you support 100% of everything they say or do.”
“Jon Ossoff doesn’t have the word ‘income inequality’ on his issues page, he doesn’t talk about single-payer health care, and he doesn’t have a plan to fight climate change” a former Sanders campaign staffer said in an interview. “I don’t think the senator is anointing anyone or imposing a litmus test on candidates, and I don’t think he sees it that way either. He’s always cared about a core set of economic issues, which is why people flocked to his campaign, and he wants to make sure he supports people who believe in the same things.”
The current controversy is evidence that that ideological divides within the party continue to cause division even after the 2016 presidential election, and that Trump alone will not be enough of a unifying force to paper over those rifts. How those divides will affect the chances of candidates in special election races like Ossoff also remains an open question.
Spokespeople for Sanders, Ossoff, and Mello did not respond to questions prior to publication. But appearing on CNN Thursday, Ossoff said he is “not interested in ideological labels or purity tests,” adding: “I'll tell you where I stand on the issues, and then I'll let the pundits decide how to label me.”
On Friday, Sanders issued a statement insisting that "it is imperative that Jon Ossoff be elected." He commended "the energy and grassroots activism in Jon's campaign," and said "his victory would be an important step forward in fighting back against Trump's reactionary agenda." Sanders made no mention of the word "progressive."
Some of Ossoff’s supporters, though, weren’t happy about Sanders’ earlier remarks.
“I think that Bernie’s comments are not helpful,” Carlos Moreno, the founder of an Indivisible group in Georgia that has been working to support the Ossoff campaign, said in an interview Thursday. “If you look at Jon’s positions on civil rights, the environment, a woman's right to chose, healthcare, you’ll see that he really is very much a progressive candidate. He is someone who shares the values of Democratic voters, who wants to fight corruption, protect access to the ballot box, and promote good education.”