Tuesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders sent an email to supporters asking them to make contributions to support a seven-state tour. The email also indicated for the first time that Sanders’ will seek re-election to a third term in the U.S. Senate.
The fundraising email, sent from Sanders’ campaign organization “Friends Of Bernie Sanders”, asked supporters to help pay for his trip next week to seven states. Sanders plans to use the trip to challenge many of the policies of the Trump Administration.
The email wrapped up with a request:
"Please make a $27 contribution to my re-election campaign to help fund this national tour."
VPR wanted to ask Sanders about his decision to seek another term in office, his role as a spokesperson for the Democratic Party, and his plan to use campaign funds for his national tour.
Numerous attempts to talk to Sanders or members of his Senate staff were made and went unanswered before publication.
Sanders' office later put out a statement saying that the language in the email referring to Sanders' re-election effort was not meant to be a "formal" campaign announcement and that "the people of Vermont will be the first to know about Bernie's political plans, which will not be announced for several months."
Regardless of when a formal announcement is made, it doesn't appear that Sanders will have a difficult time winning another term.
Jeff Bartley, the executive director of the Vermont Republican Party, says the GOP wants to focus on statewide and legislative races in 2018, not the U.S. Senate contest.
“It would be a huge task, an accomplishment in itself if we're able to find a candidate that can challenge and raise enough money to run against Sen. Sanders,” said Bartley. “As a Party, it's not really on our immediate radar."
UVM political science professor Garrison Nelson thinks Sanders ran a very strong race for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2016 and that he's now taken on an important leadership role within the Party.
"His stature grew tremendously during that campaign and Bernie's going to be a player as long as he wants to be," Nelson says, "and I think the campaign fundraiser is all about that."
Former Middlebury College political science professor Eric Davis thinks Sanders' national message will play well with many Vermont voters, as long as Sanders also addresses how these issues will directly affect the state.
"He'll go around the country and criticize the Trump Administration and the Republican Congress for their policies on the environment, climate change and so forth,” says Davis. “But Vermont voters will want him to do as much as he can to make sure that the EPA continues funding the long-term program for the clean-up of Lake Champlain."
And Davis says Sanders is poised to play a key role in shaping the Democratic presidential primary campaign in 2020.
"If he doesn't run himself, will he support a candidate for the nomination during the primary phase in 2020?" Davis says. "And he has some resources that can be of great assistance to other candidates there: his list of supporters' email addresses, contact information, as well as a lot of money."
Davis also expects that Sanders will spend a fair amount of time during the 2018 campaign season working to support the election of Democratic congressional candidates throughout the country.
Update 10:30 a.m. 4/13/2017: this post has been updated to include comment from the Sanders campaign.