Sen. Bernie Sanders Officially Enters 2020 Presidential Race

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Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has officially announced that he is running for president in 2020, according to the Huffington Post. The self-declared social democrat went on Vermont Public Radio to make the initial announcement and is expected to make a video announcement later this morning.

“I wanted to let the people of the state of Vermont know about this first,” said the longest-serving Independent in U.S. history.

Up until now, Sanders has hinted he would make another run at the White House in 2020 but has held off on making it official. He has also gone on record saying that if a candidate who has a better shot at defeating President Donald Trump comes along, he is willing to step aside.

Sanders caucuses with the Democrats for the most part but is one of the most progressive and left-leaning members of the Senate, often so much so that he draws the ire of the centrist Democratic establishment. His platform calls for Medicare For All, a $15 hourly minimum wage, reigning in runaway drug prices and the pharmaceutical industry, free public university tuition, and focusing on battling climate change.

Sanders’ contentious primary battle against Hillary Clinton is still sharply felt among Democrats, complete with charges from Sanders supporters that Clinton-controlled Democratic Party apparatchiks rigged the primary. Meanwhile, Clinton supporters still accuse Sanders and his supporters of not getting behind Clinton’s candidacy enough once she had been selected.

Fresh off a win to his third term as senator in November, winning over 67 percent of the vote, Sanders went on The View and hinted at another run at the presidency, but emphasized that his priority – and by extension the priority of every Democrat – should be uniting as a nation to oust Trump from the White House, no matter the candidate.

“There are other great candidates out there, many of them personal friends of mine,” Sanders told the panelists back in November. “But what I think is most important right now is that Trump be defeated…and that we as a nation come together respectfully.”

Bernie Sanders speaks at a 'Stop Kavanaugh' rally
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Back in 2015, when Sanders first announced his first run for president, he was treated as a bit of a joke. With his flyaway hair and his rumpled suit speaking to a handful of reporters on a patch of grass about his far-left views, Sanders was considered a fringe candidate. However, his message and policy priorities have clearly had a huge impact on the electoral playing field, moving the window of acceptable topics for political discussion on a range of issues, from economic justice, the minimum wage, climate change, banking reform, and many more. Sanders also helped open the door for more progressive candidates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to be elected to Congress.

As the huge pool of Democratic candidates continues to scramble to adopt Sanders-like platform planks, however, it remains to be seen if Sanders himself will continue to stand out from the crowd.

Either way, it’s certain that Sanders won’t be mistaken for a fringe candidate any longer. Harvard Harris polls, which come out every month, have repeatedly placed Sanders among the top three most-favored political figures in the nation, along with former president Barack Obama and former vice president Joe Biden.