The chair of the Vermont Democratic Party says out-of-staters who question Sen. Bernie Sanders’ loyalty to the state’s Democrats don’t understand the dynamic in the Green Mountain State.
“He has a long base of support within the Democratic party here,” said party chair Terje Anderson.
As Sanders, an Independent, mounts his second bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, questions about his political identify have been swirling.
At a CNN presidential town hall Monday night, a voter asked Sanders about his decision to remain an Independent.
“I am a member of the Democratic leadership of the United States Senate. I’ve been a member of the Democratic caucus in the Senate for the last 13 years and in the House for 16 years before that,” he said. “Won the Democratic nomination in my state, but in Vermont I’ve chosen to run as an Independent because it goes way, way back.”
Countless threads and social media posts have raised the issue of Sanders’ relationship with the Vermont Democratic Party, which backs Sanders’ party identity.
Historically, including in his 2018 reelection campaign, Sanders has run for U.S. Senate in the Democratic primary. He’s won the nomination three times, only to decline it and run as an Independent in the general election.
Anderson says people outside Vermont don’t see how supportive Sanders has been of the state’s Democratic candidates.
“He’s there all the time with us,” she said. “He contributes money to us. He helps our fundraisers. He goes out every election year whether he’s on the ballot or not and does these large get-out-the-vote rallies across the state for candidates up and down the ticket.”
After Sanders announced his 2020 White House bid, the Vermont Republican Party called for Sanders to resign, saying “Vermonters deserve a full time Senator.
“Vermonters deserve a Senator that believes in what is best for Vermonters, not what is best for his political ambitions,” wrote Deborah Billado, the Vermont Republican Party Chair.
Saners has also had to answer for allegations of sexual harassment of volunteers and staffers on his 2016 campaign.
“Every employee of mine in this campaign will get significant amounts of training to understand what sexual harassment is about. Anybody who feels harassed will have an independent entity to speak to outside of the campaign,” he said.
After being asked by CNN Moderator Wolf Blitzer, the senator said he would release ten years of his tax returns “sooner than later.”
“Our tax returns will bore you to death,” he said. “It’s simply nothing special about them. It just was a mechanical issue We don’t have accountants at home. My wife does most of it, and we will get that stuff out.”
According to several media reports, Sanders’ top media consultants have left his 2020 presidential campaign.
Tad Devine, Julian Mulvey and Mark Longbaugh played key roles in his 2016 bid.
They told CNN in a statement they were leaving because Sanders deserves to have media consultants who “share his creative vision.”
Sanders is holding his first rally this weekend in Brooklyn, NY.