Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley may be eyeing a late May rollout for his possible 2016 candidacy, but Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) will be seeking the Democratic nomination. According to the Associated Press, the self-described “democratic socialist” plans to announce his candidacy on April 30–this Thursday–and will run to the left of Hillary Clinton:
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders will announce his plans to seek the Democratic nomination for president on Thursday, presenting a liberal challenge to Hillary Rodham Clinton. Sanders, an independent who describes himself as a "democratic socialist," will follow a statement with a major campaign kickoff in his home state in several weeks. Two people familiar with his announcement spoke to The Associated Press under condition of anonymity to describe internal planning. Sanders will become the second major Democrat in the race, joining Clinton. He has urged the former secretary of state to speak out strongly about issues related to income inequality and climate change. The former first lady and New York senator is viewed as a heavy favorite in the primary and entered the race earlier this month.
The white-haired senator and former mayor of Burlington, Vermont, has been a liberal firebrand, blasting the concentration of wealth in America and assailing a "billionaire class" that he says has taken over the nation's politics. His entry could be embraced by some liberals in the party who have been disenchanted with Clinton and have unsuccessfully urged Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren to join the race.
In recent weeks, Sanders has been a forceful critic of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, which would eliminate tariffs and other trade barriers for the U.S., Canada and Asian countries conducting commerce with each other.
Sanders generated attention in 2010 when he staged a lengthy Senate floor speech opposing a tax agreement by President Barack Obama and Republicans.
He has called for universal health care, a massive infrastructure jobs and building program, a more progressive tax structure and reforms to address the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, which Sanders says has unleashed a torrent of money from big donors to political candidates.
"He will add color," said Lou D'Allesandro, a Democratic state senator from New Hampshire. "He's not bashful about anything."
Kathy Sullivan, a New Hampshire supporter of Clinton and a member of the Democratic National Committee, said Sanders' decision was expected.
"I know Hillary Clinton has always been expecting for there to be a competitive Democratic primary in New Hampshire," Sullivan said. "I think he should be taken seriously."
Sen. Sanders barely has a pulse with voters in Iowa, Virginia, and New Hampshire. In the Granite State, where he supposedly can mount a significant challenge to Clinton, he’s polling at a meager 11 percent. Granted, these polling samples are well under 600–the minimum for an accurate statewide poll–but given the Clinton juggernaut; it probably wouldn’t make a difference. Clinton already has the superior campaign advantage–and the machinery behind will surely deprive Sanders of the support he needs should he by some chance (really no chance) overtake Clinton in the primaries. Clinton already has endorsements from 27 of the 46 (almost 60 percent) Democratic Senators in Congress. With Sanders’ poor numbers, Clinton doesn’t have to waste time debating him. Thus, Sanders will be relegated to attacking Clinton in his stump speeches, which could be sparsely attended, or in the media market, where he probably won’t have the cash to effectively hit Clinton for her perceived economic centrism. He could hop on the “tell us more about the Clinton Foundation” narrative, which is killing Hillary’s trustworthy numbers. All in all, Sanders is probably jumping in to shape the debate. He’s the sacrificial lamb for the progressive left, who couldn’t get Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)–another hard-core liberal–to run against Clinton. As Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker wrote, she’s not a progressive that’s unhappy with the confines of a sluggish legislative body like the U.S. Senate, something that David Frum alluded to in his Atlantic piece a while back. Warren, along with some allies in the Main Street community-banking lobby, helped torpedo key Obama appointments–Larry Summers and Antonio Weiss– to the U.S. Treasury. Additionally, Warren persuaded Camden Fine of the Independent Community Bankers of America to remain neutral on the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency; that lack of opposition from Main Street banks is what paved way for that agency. She’s already doing good work; she feels like she’s more influential in the Senate; and she feels she’s already shaping the debate.
Also, Lizza quotes Fine saying that Warren doesn’t feel ready to be president. When Lizza asked Warren about Fine’s quote, she said, "Um…I’m doing the work I should be doing.”
So, in a way, Hillary dodged a bullet. Warren is the second best vote getter in the Democratic primary polls, though Hillary still leads her by double-digits. Yet, with Sanders, she could easily deprive him of oxygen easily. Then again, if Vice President Joe Biden tosses his hat into the ring, then a debate has to be held, even if Biden’s numbers barely break 5 percent; you cannot turn down the Vice President. If that happens, then everyone should be allowed on that stage to take a poke at Mrs. Clinton. Yes, a far-fetched scenario, but all of Hillary’s contenders have nothing to lose by entering this race.
Hillary may have avoided a Pepsi-esque throwback of a primary campaign candidates-wise, but she hasn’t completely positioned herself in a way to deter a challenger in general. The way her campaign has been handling the Clinton Foundation inquires hasn’t done her any favors on that front.
So, Sanders is in the 2016 race. Let’s see how long this lasts.