(Host) Independent U.S. Senate candidate Bernie Sanders says he’ll turn down the Democratic Senate nomination if voters choose him in September’s primary.
Democrat leaders say they’re circulating petitions to get Sanders on the Democratic ballot to show Sanders how much support he has within the Party.
GOP leaders say it’s little more than an effort to make certain that no on else wins the Democratic nomination.
VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:
(Kinzel) This year marks the first time that Democrats have organized an effort to put Sanders on their primary ballot.
In previous elections, Sanders received enough write in votes to be the Party’s Congressional nominee, but in each case, Sanders declined the nomination and the Democrat ballot was empty for the General Election.
This year at least three people have indicated a desire to run for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination: Peter Moss, Craig Hill and Larry Drown.
Democrat Party chairman Ian Cartleton says they plan to gather enough signatures to put Sanders on the ballot is not an effort to thwart these other candidates.
Instead, he argues it’s a way to solidify his Party’s relationship with Sanders -Carleton notes that last winter Sanders applied to the Democratic State committee to endorse his candidacy:
(Carleton) “Bernie Sanders personally and proactively sought the nomination of the Democratic Party by filing an application for endorsement with the Democratic Party and then following that up with personal phone calls to the entire state committee. No other individual in Vermont did any of that.”
(Kinzel) Sanders says he’ll turn down the Democratic nomination if he wins the primary but he’s comfortable aligning himself with the Democrats:
(Sanders) “We are putting together a strong coalition to win this election and I think the Democrats understand as I do that we’re up against the most reactionary incompetent and corrupt political leadership here in Washington in the modern history of this country and that we have all got to come together to take these guys on.”
(Kinzel) GOP State chairman Jim Barnet thinks the Democrats are trying to shut other candidates out of the electoral process.
But Barnet also supports efforts to restrict access to a party’s primary ballot.
He says this could be done by increasing the number of petitions a candidate must file or by requiring candidates to receive a minimum number of votes at the state convention.
(Barnet) “I do think that any system that allows people who are antagonistic toward the party whose label they seek to run under makes a mockery out of democracy and that’s a system that should be reformed.”
(Kinzel) The deadline for major party candidates to file for statewide and legislative races is next Monday July 17th – independent candidates have until the middle of September.
For Vermont Public Radio I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier