Laying Groundwork for 2020 Run, Sanders 2016 Staffers Launch 'Draft Bernie' Campaign

Beginning to develop the organizational muscle for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to “hit the ground running” should he decide to heed the urgent calls of progressives at home and abroad to launch a 2020 presidential bid, a group of staffers from the Vermont senator’s historic 2016 run kicked off a “Draft Bernie” campaign on Monday with the declaration that Sanders is the best candidate to take down President Donald Trump and bring about a much-needed political revolution.

“Bernie is the candidate who is offering the greatest contrast to the current administration,” said Rich Pelletier, one of the founders of Organizing for Bernie, the organization behind the new campaign. “We all believe that he is the right person. We also believe it’s a decision that he has to make.”

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In an effort to show Sanders that he has the grassroots support to emerge victorious from what will likely be a crowded field of candidates vying for the Democratic Party’s nomination, Organizing for Bernie urged Sanders backers to sign a petition describing the Vermont senator as “uniquely positioned” for a successful presidential run, based on his status as the most popular politician in the United States.

“When you ran for president in 2016, you redefined what was possible, showing Americans that we could have a just democracy—one that works for everyday people, not just the millionaires and billionaires,” the petition reads. “Now we need you more than ever to run for president and take on Donald Trump.”

“Your unwavering commitment to working families, reducing income inequality, and addressing climate change as our biggest national security concern are what make you the ideal candidate to win in 2020,” the call continues. “We are tired of self-interested and self-serving politicians. We want authentic and bold leaders who take immediate and meaningful action to solve the problems we face.”

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Organizing for Bernie was launched on the heels of the inaugural Sanders Institute Gathering in Burlington, Vermont this past weekend, which brought together progressives from across the U.S. and the world.

While the Sanders Institute, founded by Jane O’Meara Sanders, designed the conference as a way to bring a diverse set organizers and leaders from around the country and the world together in order to focus on the progressive movement’s key issues, it was inevitable that many took it as a preview of what a presidential bid by Bernie might become.

While Sanders himself did not explicitly discuss 2020—he chuckled when a member of the audience shouted out “Bernie 2020!” during his keynote address at the gathering last Thursday—the prominent progressives in attendance were not shy about calling on the senator to run.

“Let me convey a message from all of us in Europe,” former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said during an international panel discussion Friday night. “For all those comrades of yours who are now struggling to reclaim our cities, our world… our environment: we need Bernie Sanders to run for president.”

Echoing Varoufakis, labor leader and organizer RoseAnn DeMoro told Common Dreams in an interview that Sanders is the only viable 2020 candidate.

“If Bernie doesn’t run, we don’t have anyone who represents what Bernie represents,” DeMoro declared. “There is no one in the political spectrum who represents the values that he has.”

The former Sanders staffers behind Organizing for Bernie echoed this sentiment in their petition, which you can read in full below:

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