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Former VT Gov. recounts Bernie’s 1986 Independent campaign against her in endorsement of Hillary

In discussing her endorsement of Hillary Clinton, Vermont’s first female Gov. Madeleine Kunin (D, 1985-1991) recounts her experience in the 1986 gubernatorial campaign, when then-Mayor Bernie Sanders ran against her as an independent:

When Bernie Sanders ran against me in Vermont

Hillary Clinton is not the first progressive Democratic woman to be challenged by Bernie Sanders. He ran against me in 1986 when I was running for my second term as governor of Vermont. At that time he had little affinity for the Democratic Party. When advised that his third-party candidacy might result in a Republican victory, he saw no difference between Democrats and Republicans, saying: “It is absolutely fair to say you are dealing with Tweedledum and Tweedledee.”

Voters did not agree. Sanders received 14 percent of the vote, the Republican candidate, Peter Smith received 38 percent, and I won with 47 percent.

Read the rest at the Boston Globe.

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Andy Craig


  1. Bondurant Bondurant February 7, 2016

    Since when has either Clinton been a progressive? The things people believe because a politician and their controlled media says is astounding. Or, perhaps, people don’t actually believe what the Clinton’s & Ye Olde Media are pushing.

  2. Gene Berkman Gene Berkman February 7, 2016

    This appears to be the first criticism by a Hilary Supporter that Sen. B. S. is not reallly a Democrat.

    In his first campaign for Congress in 1988, he ran as a real Independent, He came in second, ahead of the Democrat nominee. The Democrat Party in Vermont was so weak they had not even run a candidate for Congress in 1986.

    In 1990 he was elected as an Independent, although he pledged to caucus with the Democrats. He even entered, and lost, the Democrat primary that year. In every re-election bid since 1994, he has entered the Democrat primary; in those years he won the primary, he declined the nomination, but he ensured that he would not have a Democrat opponent to “split the vote,”

    In 2006, when he ran for Senate. he was endorsed by Howard Dean. then Chair of the Democratic National Committee. In 2006 and in his re-election bid in 2012, he won the Democrat primary, then declined the nomination. Numerous Vermont Democrats have backed Bernie Sanders in his two Senate elections; Former Governor Madeline Kunin is an honorable exception. In 30 years in Congress, Howard Dean has moved from being an Independent to being an undocumented Democrat.

    I guess we can hope the feminists save us from the socialists in the Democrat Party. Or perhaps an alliance of feminists and crony capitalists can get the nomination for the former Senator from Wall Street.

    Electoral history of Bernie Sanders @

  3. Andy Craig Andy Craig February 8, 2016

    Kunin slightly fudges to say she “won” on 47%, and that Sanders played a significant spoiler threat. In Vermont the popular vote winner only wins outright with 50%+. When that doesn’t happen, it goes to the legislature to pick a winner, which is what they did in this election. Bernie could have won almost another ten points without putting her 1st place result in danger, and the GOP candidate could not have won outright on a plurality.

  4. Andy Craig Andy Craig February 8, 2016

    Two years later, Bernie would have a much more credible argument for having been “spoiled” by the third-place Democratic candidate for U.S. House, which is what lead to his now-longstanding agreement with the Democrats to support him, starting in the next election. It’s why he routinely wins the Dem primary but then declines to accept the nomination.

  5. Green W/O/A Green W/O/A February 8, 2016

    One of the most encouraging things about the mass support for the Sanders campaign is it represents a rejection, on behalf of the majority of Americans, of the identity politics that the MSM has been shoving down our throats. People are supporting this ageing white dude with “bro-socialist” ideas because these ideas resonate with people. The establishment’s attempts to divide and conquer via identity politics (or by promoting fear via Trump) have not succeeded. In embracing Sanders and the vision of democracy, liberty, and equity that Sanders represents, the American people are coming closer to consciousness of their real interests as well as consciousness of the entrenched concentrated power that is arrayed against these real interests.

  6. Dave Dave February 8, 2016

    Indeed, Sanders brought up that excellent point in the last Democratic debate, that it was the Democrat who spoiled the election for him. The crowd cheered.

  7. ATBAFT ATBAFT February 8, 2016

    Gene, wasn’t there a Libertarian named Jim Hedbor running in ’86 or ’88? I recall he had some fairly decent “balance of power” poll numbers but then, as usually happens, his support evaporated on election day?

  8. Gene Berkman Gene Berkman February 8, 2016

    Jim Hedbor ran for Congress as a Libertarian in 1984 and 1988. In 1984 the Republican incumbent was Jim Jeffords, and Hedbor received more than 4% including votes from conservatives who thought Jeffords was too liberal. The Democrat candidate in 1984 was Anthony Pollina, who has since became a major leader of the Progressive Party.

    In 1988, when Bernie Sanders ran for Congress as an Independent and came in 2nd to Republican Peter Smith, Jim Hedbor received 1.3% and came in 4th place. In more recent elections, the Libertarian Party has sometimes put up a candidate against Bernie Sanders, but not always.

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