While Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) might be considered the underdog in the 2016 Democratic presidential race, he’s not worried. In fact, being the underdog is something he’s used to.
In the ‘70s, Sanders lost four state elections as a third-party candidate, finally becoming the mayor of Burlington in 1981 by a mere 10 votes.
“Nobody – trust me – nobody thought I would defeat a five-term incumbent Democratic mayor,” Sanders said during an interview with the Associated Press. “Don’t underestimate me.”
Since his days as mayor, Sanders has gone on to become the longest serving Independent member of Congress in history, tapping into people’s distaste with the current state of politics.
Sanders officially launches his campaign today at his new national headquarters in Burlington, and in pockets of the Northeast, Bernie is already the candidate to beat.
“Toward the Vermont border it’s like a love-fest for Bernie,” New Hampshire Democratic activist Jerry Curran told the AP. “He’s not your milquetoast left-winger. He’s kind of a badass left-winger.”
Part of that badass image is a result of his opposition to the normal political procedures.
“I’m not going to have a super PAC in this campaign,” said Sanders. “I don’t go to fundraisers where millionaires sit around the room and say here’s a million, here’s $5 million for your super PAC. That’s not my life. That’s not my world. And I think the American people are saying that is not what our politics should be about.”
So far, his grassroots approach to his campaign has paid off — literally. In just his first day fundraising, Sanders pulled in over $1 million in donations, a total has now surpassed the $4 million mark. His total goal for the primaries? $50 million, an amount he feels is a real possibility.
And as he promised, he’s raising that money one donation at a time. The average contribution to his campaign is a mere $42 — a far cry from the $1 billion the Koch brothers said they’ll spend trying to buy the 2016 elections.
Hopefully Sander’s “longstanding practice of holding town hall meetings and people-to-people campaigning” will translate to the national stage. America needs real change – from the top down – and fast.