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Showing Strength of 'Political Revolution,' Sanders Raises $2M in Two Days for Downticket Dems

House Speaker Paul Ryan unintentionally galvanized the left with threat of "a guy named Bernie Sanders" taking over the Senate Budget Committee

Showing he's still got it, Sen. Bernie Sanders is galvanizing a movement on the left to turn the House and Senate blue. (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Though he may not have won the presidential nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders has again demonstrated the power of his influence, raising nearly $2 million in just two days for down-ticket Democrats hoping to carry the mantle of his "political revolution" into Congress come November.

As of late Thursday, emails to Sanders' donor list brought in a whopping $1.88 million for 13 progressive candidates for the House and Senate.

An aide told reporters the one of the biggest beneficiaries of Sanders' fundraising efforts was Deborah Ross, the Democratic nominee challenging Republican Sen. Richard Burr in North Carolina. Her campaign took in an estimated $300,000 after Sanders sent an email declaring that contest "one of the most important Senate races," and describing Ross as an enemy of the Koch brothers—who have poured millions into that fight—and a champion for working families.

Further galvanizing the left were comments made by GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan, who told young conservatives last week: "If we lose the Senate, do you know who becomes chair of the Senate Budget Committee? A guy named Bernie Sanders. You ever heard of him?"

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And while the warning was meant to stir Republicans to action, instead, it ignited a flurry of excitement among Sanders supporters, thrilled at the possibility that the progressive darling may gain control over the budget.

"The prospect of Bernie Sanders writing budgets and setting national priorities is, well, 'awesome,'" wrote The Nation's John Nichols.

Predictably, Sanders and his team had a field day with Ryan's remarks.

In an email to supporters late Wednesday, Sanders laid out his plan for changing the political landscape and advancing "the most progressive agenda of any party in American history."

"Consider for a moment the power that exists in the U.S. Senate," he explained. "Right now, the Republican majority is using their power to block any meaningful action on addressing income inequality or climate change."

"With a Democratic majority, we can change all of that," Sanders continued. "What Paul Ryan is specifically afraid of is the power of the budget committee. That committee defines the spending priorities of the entire government. The work of that committee says how much revenue the government should have, and where its money should go. I have some thoughts on how the government should allocate its spending. I'm sure you do, too."

Contributions made directly to the Sanders campaign offshoot Our Revolution are evenly divided between: Ross, New York's Zephyr Teachout, Russ Feingold in Wisconsin, Catherine Cortez-Masto in Nevada, New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan, Katie McGinty in Pennsylvania, Michigan's Paul Clements, Standing Rock Sioux tribal member and North Dakota Congressional candidate Chase Iron Eyes, Minnesota incumbent Rep. Rick Nolan, Nanette Barragán in California, Washington state's Pramila Jayapal, Morgan Carroll in Colorado, and Wisconsin's Tom Nelson.

While the national media spotlight has remained on the presidential contest, Ryan's threats have unintentionally given renewed vigor to the movement to #FlipTheSenate and #TurnCongressBlue.

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