Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in ~ a campaign event in Los Angeles on march 1, 2020. (AP)


• Sanders has actually signed a pledge to the autonomous National Committee come run and serve as a Democrat if elected president. The pledge is brand-new for 2020, and also it tribe from inquiries in some autonomous circles about his party affiliation.

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• throughout his career, Sanders has maintained one outsider image by keeping a foot in independent party politics.

• Sanders is officially an elevation in the Senate, though he has been welcomed as a member that the Senate autonomous leadership.

With Sen. Bernie Sanders jumping out to a delegate lead in the democratic presidential primaries, some of his rivals have actually been attacking the vermouth senator for not being a "real" Democrat.

"The reality that someone lists themselves together an main independent, not also as a Democrat, except to run for the office of president, and also then perform himself as a socialist — the doesn't fly," Biden said on CNN in the run-up to the south Carolina primary, i m sorry Biden ended up winning decisively.

In Florida, 2 Democrats filed a lawsuit in Leon County, search Sanders' disqualification native the state's main ballot, citing his status in the Senate together an independent. The Florida autonomous Party sided v Sanders, phone call the fit "ridiculous."

So exactly how does Sanders qualified to operation in the democratic primary when he's an live independence in the Senate?

The bottom line is the he's done every little thing the democratic National Committee has asked him to do in order come prove his support for the party. But before we acquire to that, let's recap Sanders' long background near, but not in, the democratic Party. (The Sanders project did not respond to an inquiry for this article.)

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Sanders' partisan history

As we detailed when that ran in 2016, Sanders to be the nominee that the anti-capitalist, anti-war Liberty Union Party of vermont in 2 Senate and two gubernatorial vote in Vermont in between 1972 and 1976. He shed all 4 races and resigned from the party in 1977, calling that "sad and tragic," according to Greg Guma, writer of The People's Republic: Vermont and the Sanders Revolution.

In 1981, Sanders make an live independence bid for market of Burlington together a self-described socialist. He winner by 10 votes over the city's autonomous mayor and two various other independents, and went top top to success three much more terms.

Democrats and leftists i dont agree on wherein Sanders' political allegiances were throughout this decade.

Liberty Union Party co-founder Peter Diamondstone doesn't to buy Sanders' claims to independence. He told the everyday Caller the Sanders "became a full-time Democrat" in 1984, once he campaigned for autonomous presidential candidate Walter Mondale.

Yet Sanders continued to clash through the party locally, and also his "goal to be to damage Democrats," Maurice Mahoney, the head the Burlington's autonomous Party in the 1980s, said Politico. He also mounted independent challenges against Democrats, including Vermont's first female democratic governor in 1984, and also reiterated the he had actually no party affiliation.

"I am not now, nor have I ever been, a liberal Democrat," he said in a 1985 new England Monthly profile, according to Politico.

"Socialist is the political and also economic viewpoint I hold, no a party I run under," he described in 1988, once he unsuccessfully ran for Congress.

Winning a U.S. Home seat

After he won a chair in the house of to represent in 1989, he continued to hold the democratic Party at a rhetorical arm's length also as he moved closer to them.

Sanders lobbied for admission right into the democratic caucus for useful reasons (getting desire committee assignments, mustering votes because that bills), follow to news reports indigenous his first year in Congress. Yet party leader wouldn't let him sign up with as he refuse to end up being a Democrat.

So in 1991, Sanders along with four liberal Democrats founded the Congressional steady Caucus, and also he ended up being its chairman. During his 2nd year in office, Sanders ongoing to agitate and also criticize Democrats, lumping lock in with Republicans and also calling both parties' taxation proposals "grossly inadequate."

At part point, Sanders began to success the goodwill of autonomous leadership, regardless of refusing to join the party.

A month prior to he was elected to a 3rd term in 1994, residence Democrats blessed his bid because that a leadership role on among his committees. Sanders had actually no autonomous challenger that year, and also a spokesperson for his Republican opponent dubbed Sanders "an adjunct to the autonomous Party," follow to the Washington Post.

The party donate Sanders' 1996 re-election bid over among their own, Burlington lawyer and Democrat Jack Long. Sanders wouldn't have another Democratic adversary until 2004.

By 1997, Sanders to be still no a member that the House autonomous Caucus or a Democrat. However he voted with the party much more often than the average Democrat (95% the the time, contrasted with the median of 80%), and also Democratic leadership gave Sanders a subcommittee chairmanship over a student in the first year Democrat.

When Sanders ran for the Senate a decade later on in 2006, still as an independent, the party functioned to stop autonomous candidates native running versus him, and he to be endorsed by numerous state and national Democrats.

In 2016, once he do his first run because that president, some optimal Democrats revitalized questions around whether Sanders to be truly a Democrat. Yet Sanders detailed that he provided the democratic Party together his party affiliation in his statement of candidacy, and also he affirmed in ~ a new Hampshire city hall, "Of course i am a Democrat."

Sanders has also detailed that the Senate democratic Caucus has named that a member that its leadership — manager of outreach — even though the is no officially listed as a Democrat in the chamber.

Partly come clarify several of the concerns raised by Sanders' 2016 presidential primary run, the autonomous National Committee attracted up brand-new requirements for 2020 candidates.

The DNC mandated that every candidate running for chairman in 2020 "affirm, in writing, to the national Chairperson that the autonomous National Committee that they: A. Space a member of the autonomous Party; B. Will certainly accept the democratic nomination; and C. Will certainly run and also serve as a member the the autonomous Party."

Sanders signed this affirmation document. (You deserve to see the here.) He likewise filled out main paperwork v the commonwealth Election the supervisory board stating the he was running for president as a Democrat. The DNC called that every various other candidate that ran because that the nomination signed it together well.

Sanders "is recognized as a candidate because that the democratic nomination due to the fact that the national party acknowledges the as one of the candidates," stated Josh Putnam, a politics scientist that specializes in delegate an option rules. As a handy matter, Putnam said, the democratic Party remained in something that a box for 2020, because it had actually already allowed him to run in 2016. The party "certainly couldn't or wouldn't backtrack on that now," the said.

End the story? no exactly.

Sanders has also filed a file with the federal Election the supervisory board to run for reelection come the Senate in 2024 — as an independent.

In a February 2019 CNN town hall, Sanders comment to a question around his party affiliation by saying that he "won the democratic nomination in my state, however in Vermont, I have chosen to operation as an independent because it go way, way back."

Sanders' ability to blur his party ties is aided through the rule of his house state that Vermont.

"Vermont is just one of the states that has no it is registered by political party," said Eric Davis, a professor emeritus the political scientific research at Middlebury College. "So, no one in Vermont, voters or candidates, is 'officially' an Independent, a Democrat or a Republican."

It's likewise the instance for the U.S. Political system overall.

"Most autonomous nations' parties have actually actual members, in the you authorize up, pay her dues, and also attend meetings and events if you wish. We don’t," stated Marjorie Hershey, one Indiana college political scientist.

Sanders has actually taken political advantage of his straddle between being one independent and also working closely with Democrats, political researchers say.

"As a political matter, that adds come his 'authenticity' together a populist running against the establishment," said Wayne Steger, a DePaul college political scientist.

Indeed, Sanders has actually emphasized his outsider status at least as much, if not more than, his democratic Party credentials throughout the main contest. For instance, ~ his win in the Nevada caucuses, Sanders tweeted, "I've acquired news for the Republican establishment. I've gained news for the autonomous establishment. They can't stop us."

I've gained news for the Republican establishment. I've gained news because that the democratic establishment. Castle can't stop us.

— Bernie Sanders (

The tweet was liked an ext than 180,000 times.

Sanders "has lengthy demonstrated a deep disdain because that the organized democratic Party and also its leadership," stated Emory university political scientist Alan Abramowitz. "This goes over well v his base, yet it is a source of some concern and irritation amongst many autonomous party leaders, elected officials and activists."

Sanders' party straddle may be controversial in part circles, yet it's not extraordinary historically, experts said.

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For instance, in 1896, wilhelm Jennings Bryan to be the Populist Party's presidential candidate at the exact same time he was the autonomous Party's nominee, Steger said. Bryan lost that election.