Updated at 12:20 p.m.
File: Paul Heintz
Sen. Bernie Sanders
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has formally announced that he is running for reelection this fall.
In a press release announcing the decision Monday, the two-term U.S. senator said he would seek another six years in Congress to continue fighting wealth inequality in the country.
“Our struggle to create a government which represents all of us and not just the 1 percent — a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice — must continue,” Sanders said. “And that is why I’m running for reelection.”
The candidate said he would formally launch his campaign in June with rallies across Vermont.
According to campaign spokesperson Arianna Jones, Sanders plans to seek the Democratic nomination in Vermont’s August primary. If he wins, she said, he would “respectfully” decline the nomination and run as an independent in the general election. Sanders would, however, accept the endorsement of the Vermont Democratic Party.
“That is what he has done in the past, and that is what he looks forward to happening in 2018,” Jones said, referring to Sanders’ 2006 and 2012 Senate runs.
Sanders, 76, spent eight years as mayor of Burlington before his election to Congress in 1990. After 16 years in the House, he ran for a Senate seat vacated by Republican-turned-independent Jim Jeffords.
Sanders lost the Democratic primary for president to former secretary of state Hillary Clinton in 2016, but he has continued to travel nationally to stump for progressive causes and candidates. Sanders’ last campaign for U.S. Senate, in 2012, ended with a landslide victory over Republican John MacGovern in which Sanders got 71 percent of the vote.
Sanders' wife, Jane O'Meara Sanders, has been under scrutiny by federal prosecutors
over her involvement in a 2010 land deal at Burlington College, where she was president at the time. The college later had to fold
, in large part due to the real estate debt the school incurred during her tenure.
Sanders faces challengers across the political spectrum, though none have his political status or multimillion dollar campaign fund
Homelessness advocate Jon Svitavsky
, whose rivalry with Sanders dates back to the 1980s, backed Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race and is seeking the Democratic nomination for Sanders’ seat.
Air Force veteran Brad Peacock
, who works as a farmer in Shaftsbury, is running as an independent on a progressive platform, including term limits for members of Congress and a $15 minimum wage for all Americans.
Only Essex Republican Jasdeep Pannu, whose campaign website calls for replacing the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration with the “Child Trafficking Enforcement Agency,” has filed paperwork to appear
on ballots in Vermont.
Volunteers for the Sanders campaign were collecting signatures Saturday at the Burlington Farmers Market to get the incumbent on the ballot.
Sanders did not immediately respond to an interview request Monday.