Bernie Sanders To Seek Democratic Nomination, Won’t Accept Nomination

As he has in the past, Bernie Sanders will seek the Democratic nomination for Senate in Vermont but won't accept the nomination if he wins.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who is up for re-election to his third term as Vermont’s junior Senator, announced today that he would seek the Democratic nomination in addition to running as an Independent, but that he would not accept the nomination should he win:

Bernie Sanders is running for the Democratic nomination in Vermont — but he won’t accept it if he wins.

The famously independent senator, who briefly joined the Democratic Party to run in the 2016 New Hampshire presidential primary only to un-enroll later, officially announced Monday that he would seek a third term in the Senate this fall. He also said that he’ll pull the same maneuver that he did in his 2006 and 2012 Senate races: Running as a Democrat, declining the nomination when he wins and then running as an independent.

The move makes it virtually impossible for another Democrat to seek the party’s nod. And it allows Sanders to loom large in the party primary in August, but still preserve his independence.

But the move also comes at a time when Sanders supporters are pushing for changes to the presidential nominating process as part of the Democratic National Committee unity reform commission. One priority is to open up the party’s primaries to voters who aren’t registered as Democrats.

A Sanders spokeswoman did not answer when asked whether the senator considered doing things differently in light of his new party and Senate leadership roles.

The Vermont Democratic Party passed a resolution over the weekend supporting Sanders’ move, proclaiming that he could still be considered a member of the party “for all purposes and entitled to all the rights and privileges that come with such membership at the state and federal level.”

“It’s hard to explain to people from out of state how we’ve made peace with it as a party, how Bernie’s made peace with it. We’re on board,” said Vermont state chairman Terje Anderson.

Anderson pointed out that Sanders appears at party fundraisers, and participates in the coordinated campaign efforts with other Democrats. He acknowledged that the approach probably “intimidates people from running,” but he said that the complaints about this among state Democrats have faded, and the role that Sanders has taken on nationally has helped with that.

“It’s a minority, and it’s a shrinking minority over time as he’s done more and more for the party and with the party,” Anderson said.

Still, Anderson said he’s faced a number of tough questions about this arrangement at DNC meetings over the years.

In a statement, Sanders thanked the state party for the resolution, citing the work that he’s doing pushing for a change in the economy in Vermont and around the country.

“I welcome the Vermont Democratic Party’s work to build bridges and not walls,” Sanders said. “Let’s fight for our children’s future and not over labels.”

As noted, this isn’t the first time that Sanders has utilized this tactic. In his first run for the Senate in 2006, Sanders ran for and won the Democratic nomination for Senate, but refused the nomination and ran as an Independent in the race to succeed Senator Jim Jeffords, who retired that year. This meant, of course, that there was no Democratic nominee on the ballot that November and Sanders ended up winning decisively over his Republican opponent. In 2012, he again ran for and won the Democratic nomination and also received the nomination of the Progressive Party. Again, Sanders refused the nomination of both parties, and against scored a decisive victory over his Republican opponent. From the results, it also appears that Sanders had used a similar tactic in many of his elections to the House of Representatives prior to becoming a Senator. Finally, of course, Sanders ran for the Democratic nomination for President in 2016 even while declining to join the Democratic Party, and even scored a speaking slot at the Democratic National Convention that year. He has also intervened in Democratic politics and primary races and encouraged his supporters to do the same.

As a political maneuver, this makes perfect sense from Sanders’ point of view. Eliminating the possibility of a Democratic nominee on the ballot allows him to ensure that voters won’t be tempted to vote for someone else and thus turn what would otherwise be an easy one-on-one victory against a Republican into a three-way race that could potentially put Sanders at risk in a General Election. Additionally, the Vermont Democratic Party appears to be fine with the move, no doubt largely because they know that Sanders will caucus with the Democrats notwithstanding his Independent status. That being said, there’s something about a move such as this that seems just a bit hypocritical considering the rhetoric that Sanders consistently preaches to supporters. It seems to be little more than the same sort of insider game that he accuses others of playing, and not entirely different from the manner in which he and his supporters claim that the Democratic National Committee acted to undermine his campaign in 2016, charges that are largely unfounded and not based in fact. If Sanders wants to run as an Independent he should be free to do so, of course, but engaging in game playing like this to make it easier in the General Election seems especially cynical, especially from someone who speaks the way that he does.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2018, Congress, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Kathy says:

    It would seem the socialist gentleman from Vermont likes his monopoly just fine, and will not accept the nomination from the gutter.




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  2. An Interested Party says:

    All those Sanders supporters who claimed he was so pure and innocent would do well to know this information…for all the whining about how Hillary supposedly stole the nomination, at least she was actually a member of the Democratic Party, unlike Sanders…




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  3. MarkedMan says:

    Bernie Sanders gives me perspective. Readers of this blog know that I’ve been a big Hillary Clinton supporter and feel that the attacks on her were specious and wrong. In fact, I have to admit that I sometimes wonder if someone’s reflexive dislike of Clinton and the need to constantly put her down represents a flawed personality, or masks prejudices below the surface. And just when I get my dudgeon about as high it will go, Doug posts a picture of Bernie, spurring my reflexive dislike of him and stimulating my need to constantly put him down.




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  4. Ben Wolf says:

    Sanders was always good at politics.




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  5. Todd says:

    Although I do agree with many/most of his policy ideas, Bernie Sanders and his supporters have definitely rubbed me the wrong way ever since he lost the Democratic primary. I am almost embarrassed to have voted for him in the primary, although I still stand by my assessment (at the time) that nominating Hillary Clinton was a dangerous move for the Democrats, due to her own weaknesses as a candidate. (I really wish such personal tragedy hadn’t visited Joe Biden, and he would have been able to pull the trigger and jump in the race in the fall of 2015 … as it appeared he really wanted to. Bernie Sanders would likely have never gained traction, and Hillary Clinton would have lost, as she was destined to do, but in a primary again instead of the much more consequential general election).

    I actually changed my planned vote in my district (which will probably reelect R Roger Williams in November in any case) when I found out the only candidate I had been aware of was endorsed by “Our Revolution” (the group formed by Sanders supporters). Turns out I liked the other candidate better anyway.

    I’m still waiting to see if we can avoid a replay of the 2016 fights in these upcoming mid-terms, but I’m not totally confident it will happen. As much as criticized Hillary Clinton as a candidate, I still seethe every time I recall one of my progressive friends lecturing me about how it wouldn’t be such a big deal if Donald Trump wins, as they were sure it would make it easier to make the Democratic party more progressive in upcoming elections. I’m hopeful that maybe at least some of them have learned their lesson and will show up to vote against any Republican. But at the same time, I wouldn’t be surprised if many of the little shits stay home again, especially in places like MO, WV and IN where they don’t have a “true progressive” to vote for.




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  6. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Agreed. I admit that I reflexively dislike Sanders and, to be fair, typically Sanders supporters as well. Dislike may even be a gross understatement in that regard.




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  7. Ben Wolf says:

    @Todd: Making decisions on the basis of “wrong rubbing” suggests a sentimental reaction.




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  8. Todd says:

    @Ben Wolf: The “wrong rubbing” inspired me to learn more about the other candidate (Julie Oliver) in the runoff … and it turns out I think she is the better candidate in any case. In the primary, I had voted for Chris Perri, because he was the only candidate I was aware of after my initial research. Also, to be clear, if the “Our Revolution” supported candidate (Perri) wins the runoff, I will certainly be voting for him in November.

    On the whole, I will strive to vote for the best candidates in any race. But when it comes to things that I consider a mark for, or a mark against when I am learning about those candidates, being endorsed by Our Revolution will mostly be a net negative for me.




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  9. Ben Wolf says:

    @Todd: The behavior of a person or persons in 2016 persuaded you to learn about a candidate one and a half years later?




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  10. Todd says:

    @Ben Wolf: The behavior of (too) many of Sanders supporters … especially the ones who went to the Jill Stein camp after the convention in 2016 did inspire me to view anybody that they support in the future with suspicion, yes.

    Again, I will definitely strongly support a progressive in any general election against a Republican. But when it comes to primaries, I don’t approve of their tactics. so therefore will (in most cases) not support them. It’s something I decided after 2016, and in situations where I can stick to it without causing harm, I’m going to.




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  11. MarkedMan says:

    @Todd:

    I found out the only candidate I had been aware of was endorsed by “Our Revolution” (the group formed by Sanders supporters). Turns out I liked the other candidate better anyway.

    Politico has an interesting take on “Our Revolution”.I am taking it with a grain of salt as Politico strikes me as being like the old Washington Post on steroids: a place where beltway insiders are given fairly free rein to take pot shots at each other, while the “journalism” is always careful never to actually call a spade a spade, i.e. “Democrats say Trump was wrong about tax policy” rather than “Trump was incorrect when he said “x” about tax policy”.




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  12. Ben Wolf says:

    @Todd: I think I understand and appreciate the explanation of your thinking.




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  13. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @MarkedMan: Politico improved a lot since Jim VandeHei left. It’s basically a newspaper for lobbyists and political consultants, but now it’s really a newspaper, not the gossip magazine of the VandeHei years.




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  14. Todd says:

    @Ben Wolf: Thanks for the check on my logic. Feel free to call me out if I should give a future explanation that doesn’t make sense (at least from my own perspective). I appreciate it.

    @MarkedMan: Yes, I read that article the other day. Funny thing, I’m almost a “political orphan” these days. My ideology is pretty clearly to the left of center (all those silly little quizzes tell me so). But I don’t really “fit” well with either wing of the Democratic party … especially when it comes to tactics. Mainstream Democrats (IMO), especially in red areas, tend to be entirely too cautious (and seem to have an outsized need to try to win Republican crossover voters). Whereas, on the other end I’m just not terribly comfortable with the “in your face, let’s go to war” attitude of so many on the far left. For me, the ideal candidate would be someone who doesn’t shy away from their liberal policy ideas, but also isn’t a dick about how superior they think they are, compared to anybody else.




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  15. Todd says:

    Ideologically liberal, temperamentally (small c) conservative. I think it’s why I was so comfortable with Barack Obama as President.




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  16. Ben Wolf says:

    @Todd: Your comment was interesting. When people are interesting I ask questions.

    So here’s another one: do you think major changes are possible without somebody getting crushed?




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  17. Barry says:

    ” That being said, there’s something about a move such as this that seems just a bit hypocritical considering the rhetoric that Sanders consistently preaches to supporters. It seems to be little more than the same sort of insider game that he accuses others of playing, and not entirely different from the manner in which he and his supporters claim that the Democratic National Committee acted to undermine his campaign in 2016, charges that are largely unfounded and not based in fact. ”

    There’s a old and solid saying that the right is incapable of accusing liberals of doing anything that they haven’t already done 10x as much.

    I guess that it needs to changed: ‘…the right and the left…’.




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  18. Todd says:

    @Ben Wolf: I think (or at least hope) major changes are coming … the timeline will just likely be much more incremental than many would like.

    My main concern with many of the more passionate young progressives is that they have entirely unrealistic expectations about what can be accomplished in a short period of time in our system. If Bernie Sanders had won the nomination, then the Presidency in 2016, it would have been horrible for the long-term health of the progressive movement. If young progressives were disillusioned by Barack Obama’s Presidency, they would have been downright bewildered and enraged by how comparably little a President Sanders would have been able to accomplish … especially in a system where Democrats (unlike the current Republican party) still respect the norms and traditions that have enabled our country to function for 240 years.




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  19. Mr. Prosser says:

    The best summation of Bernie’s use of the primary in comments at Balloon Juice this AM.: “It’s always been clear that Bernie is the “Right to Work” candidate. He’d vote against that as a law, but for himself he wants all the advantages of the union (ie the Democratic Party) organization – infrastructures, media, fundraising and apparently job protection- But he doesn’t want to pay any dues or or have to cooperate with leadership.” B_Rogers




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  20. Sleeping Dog says:

    Ideally, Sanders would have been a liberal Jesse Helms, but he can’t organize a coffee break and after spending, what 40 years in Washington, is clueless how to build support to pass legislation. The Sander-ites are as deluded as the Trumpkins. In fact they are the flip side of the same coin.




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  21. Ben Wolf says:

    @Todd: Well, it seems to me that perception of time is the key variable in that. If one thinks there is ample time, then it’s reasonable to argue for a more moderate path, so long as it is acknowledged that a better world is the goal. But if one thinks we’re out of time, then such an approach would likely be regarded as unworkable.

    Speaking for myself as a marginal Sanders supporter (his politics are much too conservative for me) living on a planet already well into the start of ecological collapse means it’s do-or-die. The conclusion of many on the Left is, I think, that an aggressive approach may fail, while a moderate approach will definitely fail, so the only rational course of action is all-out-assault.




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  22. KM says:

    I’ve never understood why people buy Sanders’ shtick. He’s the emo loner goth-wannabe who insists on non-conformity but demands to be captain of the football team because otherwise how’s he supposed to get some tail if he’s not on Team Popularity? Two fairly incompatible identities that we’re just supposed to ignore the contradictions of because he’s just that awesome. You can’t be a rebel outsider while running for the ultimate insider job ( leader of the group)!

    Anderson pointed out that Sanders appears at party fundraisers, and participates in the coordinated campaign efforts with other Democrats. He acknowledged that the approach probably “intimidates people from running,” but he said that the complaints about this among state Democrats have faded, and the role that Sanders has taken on nationally has helped with that.

    How many of those that gave up could have been part of the new crop of Dems we need? Our bench is getting mighty thin and here we are discouraging people from running, all so Bernie can keep his seat. Doesn’t that sound like BernieBro complaints about kowtowing to inevitable Hillary and not giving others a chance?Are they saying he won’t help fund raise if they don’t give him the nomination, meaning he’s not really in it for the cause?




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  23. al Ameda says:

    @Todd:

    Ideologically liberal, temperamentally (small c) conservative. I think it’s why I was so comfortable with Barack Obama as President.

    That’s very close to how I self-assess.

    I live in a very liberal bubble, in Sonoma County about 60 miles north of San Francisco. Probably half of my neighbors voted for Bernie Sanders or Jill Stein. Those people still feel that Hillary Clinton’s people stole the Democratic Party nomination.

    It seems that active base Democrats are not moving to the middle.If they win in November it’s going to be because: (1) very high turnout and (2) Trump is perceived to have moved very far to the right on many important issues.




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  24. Todd says:

    @Ben Wolf: The thing is, even “radical change” is still going to be a relatively slow process within our system … and I think you’d have a hard time getting consensus, even among those who are really worried about the fate of the world, that our system can just be changed from top to bottom overnight.

    I really do think that it’s inevitable that the United States eventually ends up looking very much like most western European social democracies … I’d just be very surprised if we get those type of universal safety net programs even partially in place any time before I’m eligible to collect social security (I’m 49 now).




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  25. Todd says:

    @al Ameda: I agree, and I think that’s probably the rule in most elections these days … turnout is much more important that attempting to appeal to the mythical “swing voter”.




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  26. MarkedMan says:

    @Todd:

    I’m almost a “political orphan” these days.

    My perspective is a bit different. The percentage of people that actually think deeply about the direction of society and develop strong opinions on what that should be may be high on a blog like this, but in the general public it is a small number. If I were to guess I would say that 60-80% of the population range from “Not really interested” to “I treat politics like sports – root for my team do or die, and I picked that team for reasons I’m not even interested in analyzing.” Half of what’s left fall into the the “deep thinker” category but I think you’re merging that with the remainder, the people who fall into the category of “I need some kind of justification for behaving badly so I’ve latched onto this brand of religion/politics/nationalism/racial identity.”

    This last chunk is interesting and contains people that range from tea partiers to college sophomores come home to tell off their parents for culturally appropriating Vietnamese food, to black nationalists or white nationalists that are looking to pick a fight. (Some of the above may actually grow out of these tendencies 😉 But it’s a mistake to confuse people that are primarily looking for cover for their desire to “tell you just what exactly I think of you and your kind” and people who are grappling with these issues. Ta Nahesi Coates says very harsh things about racism in America but anyone who has read him from his early blog days knows that he is truly grappling with these issues. But Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh or Bill Maher or Donald Trump don’t even remotely strike me as being motivated by anything beyond the desire to tell someone off.

    The most important thing about a terrorist is that they want to kill and hurt people. The cause they claim they do it for is, if not random, at least unimportant to their actions. If it wasn’t Islam it would be Christianity or Buddhism or Hinduism or White Nationalism or Palestinian rights. But it’s important to grasp that the fact that just because bad people have glommed onto one cause or another doesn’t increase or decrease the value of the cause, although it may make it substantially harder to convince others of its value.

    Finally, we associate groups with causes, but that changes over time. All groups tend to get taken over by the haters, so if you are truly interested in a cause you need, of course, to fight for the good groups but you also need to recognize when they are lost. The Republican Party of the 60’s and 70’s and a lot going for it, and retained some remnants of that into even the 90’s, but the modern Republican Party is a husk of its former self, devoid of anything good or moral or patriotic. People, deep thinkers, once valued it for being business friendly but fair minded to labor, for harboring people who marched for civil rights, for counting among its members people concerned about the environment, heck, at the very least it once housed people concerned about facts. Bottom line, it was once, at its core, populated by people who valued human worth but didn’t want to run pell mell off a cliff. Those people, myself included, need to accept that Party is dead and gone.

    You are disenchanted with some of the people who call themselves Progressive. Don’t confuse that with being disenchanted with Progressive values.




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  27. Ben Wolf says:

    @Todd: I understand your argument. How many years do we have with an 83% decline in wild mammals? A 50% decline in avian life? A rapidly warming planet, toxins in our air, water and bodies? Scientists aren’t telling us anymore that we need to do something soon; they’re telling us we need to do something yesterday.

    Our society is, by every social indicator, falling apart. No moderate has any answer to these problems, because moderation, by historical definition, means prioritizing “national” interest over “special” interest. If anyone is wondering, the corporate interest is, since the early 20th century, considered to be the national interest, while concern over the teflon chemicals in your bloodstream is a special interest.

    We all know which of those interests is supposed to be good and which is bad.

    What is the moderate response to extinction?




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  28. al Ameda says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    What is the moderate response to extinction?

    I think the de minimis moderate response would normally be: “Can’t we agree to do something?”

    However these days that’s a non-starter. It’s a binary one-or-zero environment, and Republicans in particular have decided that they neither need nor want a single Democratic vote to get done what they feel is necessary (and ‘extinction’ [slash] global climate change is not something they’re terribly interested in.)




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