With Sanders Seen as Top 2020 Contender, Recent Moves Spark Campaign Suspicions

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) campaigned for the 2016 presidential race in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo: Phil Roeder/Flickr/cc)

With Sanders Seen as Top 2020 Contender, Recent Moves Spark Campaign Suspicions

Pushing "theory of grass-roots change," longtime independent now key figure among Democratic leadership

While Democratic insiders currently rank Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) as the top contender for a presidential candidate for 2020, a report published Monday by Politico poses that the senator's recent moves within the Democratic Party indicate he could be working to address critiques of his presidential campaign last year in anticipation of another run for the nation's highest office.

Sanders has said publicly he hasn't take a 2020 run "off the table," but he has chastised reporters for asking him about it, insisting his current focus is on blocking the far right agenda of Trump and the Republicans while also urging the Democratic Party to recognize its past failings.

But even as Sanders continues to call for party reforms, Politico reports:

Nonetheless, one year after running an anti-establishment campaign that had the support of just one other senator, Sanders is clearly aiming to improve his standing inside the party. He has worked closely with [Sen. Chuck] Schumer and others on defending Obamacare. He has traveled in conjunction with giant liberal advocacy group MoveOn.org to hold health care-focused rallies. And he has headlined events and conference calls back in Washington with progressive organizations like the Working Families Party.

Politico concludes that Sanders' recent "moves have provided the senator inroads into party power structures that largely shunned him in favor of Hillary Clinton last year," and "empowered the progressive icon to harness his newfound political power and help Democrats fight President Donald Trump's administration"--enabling him to push the party further to the left and promote candidates who share his values at all levels of politics.

"Sanders has often stated his wish to win over other lawmakers to his theory of grass-roots change," Politico notes, but his political maneuvers represent "a complex balance for someone who hates any perception that he could be an insider."

Although Sanders is seen as a front-runner for the next presidential race, some supporters insist the recent moves are just Sanders adjusting to his new role as outreach chairman for the Democratic Party--a role Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) created for him last year.

"He's just stepping into the role," senior adviser Ari Rabin-Havt told Politico. "He's doing his job. This is a new phase of his career."

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