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OpinionColumnistsMike Vogel

Painful choices in New York’s April presidential primary

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 31: Attendees wait

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 31: Attendees wait in line prior to a rally for Democratic Presidential Candidate Senator Bernie Sanders at St. Mary's Park on March 31, 2016 in the Bronx borough of New York City . Sanders and opponent Hillary Clinton are campaigning ahead of the April 5 primary in New York. (Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images) Photo Credit: Getty Images/ Andrew Renneisen

With the New York Democratic primary less than two weeks away, both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are claiming to be genuine New Yorkers. If you dropped both of them in midtown, who do you think could find his or her way to Coney Island, Yankee Stadium or the Rockaways without a cab?

That said, I couldn’t care less who the real New Yorker is. What concerns me is who has the best chance to beat the two repugnant extremists most likely to represent the GOP this year: Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

Polls in March showed Clinton with a commanding lead over Sanders in New York. The latest Quinnipiac poll shows Sanders only 12 points behind and closing fast. Meanwhile, Republicans are in a bind. If Trump is their nominee, he would probably not only lose, but destroy the party in the process. If he isn’t the nominee, the party will lose millions of voters.

But Democrats are also in a bind, even if some won’t recognize it. If they nominate Sanders, the candidate progressives are most passionate about, the GOP will have a field day.

If Sanders had labeled himself an independent instead of a democratic socialist, he would be our next president. His authenticity comes through, he’s trouncing Trump in national polls, and voters are disgusted with politics as usual.

But if Sanders gets the nomination and the GOP trains its guns on him, things will get ugly quick. Expect attack ads showing Sanders voicing support for the Sandinistas and dictatorship in Nicaragua, for starters. It’s not an accident every Republican I speak to is praying for Sanders to be the Democratic nominee.

The “Bernie or Bust” crowd is of the same ilk that supported Ralph Nader in 2000 and helped usher in President George W. Bush. Sanders supporter Susan Sarandon said recently she wasn’t sure she could back Clinton’s nomination, and that “some people feel Donald Trump will bring the revolution immediately.” Yes, the fascist revolution.

I don’t know who will win on April 19. But if Democratic infighting and self-righteousness once again lands a Republican in the White House, this time it will be Trump. Not the real New Yorker they had in mind.

Playwright Mike Vogel blogs at newyorkgritty.net.

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