Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., left, accompanied by Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., gestures during a news conference on the economy, Wednesday, June 11, 2008, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Surprise, Surprise: Bernie Sanders To Remain An Independent In 2018

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders headlined a Democratic fundraiser on Sunday and delivered his same old spiel to a liberal audience.

During a speech at the Strafford County Democratic Committee fundraising dinner, Sanders was able to wow attendees with a wish list of amazing policy items such as: a $15 minimum wage, tuition-free college for everyone, his “Medicare for All” bill and other impractical goodies that sound great to people who don’t wonder how it gets paid for. The 45-minute speech was sprinkled with several standing ovations.

Sanders also made one other thing clear as he addressed the room full of Democrats: he won’t be running as a member of their party next year.

The Vermont senator, who identifies as a democratic socialist, serves the upper chamber as an Independent, although he has caucused with Democrats since his arrival to Congress. The admirer of Eugene Debs will run for a third term next year and many Democratic leaders were hoping he would finally make the official move to the Democrat Party.

Those people were left disappointed Sunday.

“I am an independent and I have always run in Vermont as an independent, while I caucus with the Democrats in the United States Senate. That’s what I’ve been doing for a long time and that’s what I’ll continue to do,” Sanders stated in an interview.

Sanders, of course, made a monumental splash into Democratic politics during the 2016 election. Giving Hillary Clinton a run for her money, the lover of the nanny state amassed a huge following of supporters while running for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. Although he ultimately lost to Clinton, he walked away a superstar in a party he still refuses to call home.

The location of the event on Sunday was also telling. The Strafford County Democratic fundraiser is located in New Hampshire — his home state’s next door neighbor and the first-in-the-nation presidential primary state. It was his second visit to New Hampshire in under two months.

Despite being 76 years old, many are keeping an eye on Bernie’s next moves as Democrats are already maneuvering into 2020 campaign mode. Before he can even move to this phase, however, the Independent senator must first win re-election next year — which shouldn’t be hard given his popularity in the state.

Nearly dethroning Clinton during the presidential coronation nomination gave Bernie many friends, but he’s also amassed quite a few critics, as well. Many Party insiders blame him for Clinton’s eventual loss in the general election to Donald Trump. He’s subsequently faced mounting pressure to officially become a Democrat. Bob Mulholland, a Democratic National Committee member, went so far as to introduce a resolution at the Party’s fall meeting that would have called for Sanders and Sen. Angus King — an Independent from Maine that also caucuses with the Dems — to run as Democrats. Angus also faces re-election next year.

That particular resolution failed a simple majority vote, so Sanders and King don’t have to sweat over actually having to call themselves Democrats just yet.

As Sanders keeps the door open for another go at the White House, it’s amazing he still refuses to identify as a member of the party he’s caucused for years with.

He’s OK with getting the Democrat’s nomination for the presidency, but don’t you dare call him a Democrat.

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Jason Hopkins

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