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Fewer than 4 years ago, Bernie Sanders arrived on the new Hampshire State house with his project lawyer to it is registered for the state’s presidential primary. At the time, state election officials had signaled they could not permit Sanders ~ above the ballot because of his longtime affiliation together an independent.

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“I am a Democrat now,” Sanders proclaimed to reporters in ~ the State house in November 2015. And also when asked even if it is he would certainly run together a Democrat in every future elections, Sanders responded, “yes.”

Except, in the future, the didn’t. And also as Sanders begins his second campaign for president — including, this weekend, his first trip to new Hampshire — he continues to contend with his party affiliation, or absence thereof.


Four years ago, Sanders ran in the autonomous primary, also though he to be technically an live independence — and a self-described democratic socialist — allowing him to run as one insurgent to the party. But he enters the 2020 race as the democratic Party’s front-runner in many public opinion polls, leaving some Democrats asking whether a self-described independent have to be the party’s standard-bearer.

Last year, when it come time for Sanders to stand for reelection come the Senate in Vermont, the did what he has done since he sought the Burlington mayor’s office in 1980: the ran as an independent.

And things have only gotten more awkward recently. Top top Feb. 19, Sanders filed paperwork to run for president as a Democrat. Top top Monday, less than 2 weeks later, he filed separate paperwork to look for reelection because that the Senate in vermouth in 2022, together a independent.

Last week, the autonomous National Committee introduced a “loyalty pledge” because that presidential candidates to affirm and sign, consisting of a heat stating, “I am a Democrat.”

Sanders turned in his signed copy Tuesday afternoon, finish with a notary seal.


When asked for comment, the Sanders campaign noted that Sanders signed the DNC pledge and that vermont doesn’t call for party registration because that voters.

At a CNN city hall last month, Sanders to be asked why he was running together a Democrat also though he has never operation as a Democrat except in the critical presidential race.

“Let’s collection the record straight. Ns am a member that the democratic leadership in the United says Senate. I’ve to be a member of the democratic caucus in the Senate because that the critical 13 years and in the house for 16 years prior to that. winner the democratic nomination in mine state, but in Vermont, I have chosen to operation as one independent due to the fact that it go way, way back,” Sanders answered.

In the end, not only did Sanders have actually no problem getting on the 2016 brand-new Hampshire presidential major ballot, but he additionally scored the largest democratic presidential main win in that state due to the fact that John F. Kennedy’s victory in 1960. The win pushed his project through a primary season that reached all 50 states, brought about his rival Hillary Clinton to transform her campaign platform, compelled rule transforms at the autonomous National Convention, and made once-in-a-generation adjustments to national presidential main rules going forward.

During the process, his project manager reaffirmed the from then on, Sanders would certainly be a Democrat because that life.

“My customer was not lying,” said Andru Volinsky, who served as the brand-new Hampshire legitimate counsel come the Sanders campaign and also joined him during his 2015 State residence visit. “He promised to operation as a Democrat, the did, and then that endorsed the ticket once he lost and campaigned for them after.”


Volinsky, who said he has not endorsed Sanders or everyone in the 2020 contest, to trust that most voters nothing care around the technicality that his party affiliation.

“What attracted voter to him to be the issues and also the reasons he talked about,” Volinsky said.

Today, the 77-year-old Sanders start the 2020 race as the clear front-runner in the new Hampshire primary. A university of brand-new Hampshire poll exit this week confirmed Sanders leading the large field with 26 percent support, 4 points far better than the second-place finisher, former vice chairman Joe Biden.

As Sanders tries to hold together the party approximately him, it would certainly be clever for the vermont senator to put his dual partisan affiliations to bed, stated Roger Lessard, the Hillsborough County democratic Committee chairman that backed Sanders in 2016.

“By and large, an ext people would certainly feel comfortable with backing that if he were an really Democrat this time,” Lessard said. “I think a lot of of human being would great he quit playing around around it, especially now.”

And, when the national democratic Party could be putting much more pressure top top him to align with their party, there is also an initiative underway in brand-new Hampshire to do room for his double political existence.

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With bipartisan support, a invoice passed the brand-new Hampshire house last week that would broaden the demands to get on a primary ballot past just being a member that a party to gift “a known candidate for president in the party in which ns desire come file.”


New Hampshire autonomous Party chairman ray Buckley supports the bill.

“What 2016 carried up were some potential concerns about party affiliation,” Buckley said. “Whatever location Senator Sanders wishes to affiliate himself with is less crucial than this voice being component of the debate.”

James Pindell can be reached at james.pindell Follow him ~ above Twitter
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