Bernie Sanders set to seek reelection this fall

Bernie Sanders will seek a fourth term in the Senate this fall, a move putting the best-known Senate progressive on track to win another six years in the chamber.

The 82-year-old Vermont independent and two-time presidential candidate is currently at the peak of his power in Congress, chairing the Senate’s top health care committee and working to push the Democratic Party to the left.

“I have been, and will be if reelected, in a strong position to provide the kind of help Vermonters need in these difficult times,” Sanders said in a video announcing his intent to seek his seat again.

Sanders caucuses with the Democrats and serves on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s leadership team, but will run as an independent yet again. That means he’s likely to win the Democratic nomination in his state but turn it down, as he has done in previous cycles, according to a person familiar with his plans. He’s expected to win his seat again by an overwhelming margin.

The progressive leader has had major ups and downs since Democrats took the Senate majority in 2021. When Democrats controlled the House, he pushed the party to spend trillions of dollars on new social programs and was at times frustrated his caucus wouldn’t go along with his efforts to expand Medicare and weaken the filibuster.

In divided government, he has prioritized big new health care investments and challenged his party on providing aid to Israel, voting against recent foreign aid bills in protest. Ahead of his fourth Senate campaign, though, Sanders cast the election’s stakes in dire terms.

“There are very difficult times for our country and in world. And, in many ways, this 2024 election is the most consequential election in our lifetimes. Will the United States continue to even function as a Democracy, or will we move to an authoritarian form of government?” Sanders asked.

Despite his heavy left lean, Sanders does have a pragmatic side. He eventually came around to the much-smaller energy and health care-focused Inflation Reduction Act devised by Schumer and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and has at times tried to pursue compromise with Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy, the top Republican on the Senate’s HELP Committee.

Still, there’s no doubt that Democrats losing the Senate majority in November would mean progressives forfeit their most prominent committee perch in Congress — relegating Sanders to the less-powerful ranking member spot on the panel.