Burlington mayoral candidate Carina Driscoll is touting her relationship with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on the campaign trail — in spite of her avowed commitment to separate herself politically from her stepfather.
Driscoll posted paid campaign ads on Facebook and Instagram featuring a black-and-white photo of her with Sanders. The ads refer to her as Sanders' "daughter" rather than "stepdaughter," as she has previously referred to herself.
"I am Bernie's daughter, and am one of the thousands of people across this country inspired by Bernie to lead during this challenging time," the ad reads. It lists Driscoll's political experience on the Burlington School Board, on the city council and in the Vermont legislature. "I am also a candidate in my own right," it says.
"People are always like, 'You're going to do the picture with Bernie, right?' 'You're going to do the endorsement?'" Driscoll told Seven Days in December. "I'm like, 'We're going to run a campaign for mayor.'"
In the same interview, Driscoll expressed frustration that Burlingtonians connect her with Sanders. "I will never, ever get credit for fully completing anything on my own," she said.
That, apparently, was then. "It was important to me that I launch as Carina Driscoll, with the focus on this candidacy," she said Wednesday.
Now, she said, she's highlighting her personal and political relationship with Sanders. When she discusses a need for "vibrancy downtown" and public initiatives, "I'm really referencing what Burlington was like in the '80s," she said, referencing Sanders' tenure as mayor from 1981 to 1989. "I think we need to do that again."
Her emphasis on grassroots organizing and promoting civic involvement "comes from an ethic that Bernie established as mayor," she said.
Driscoll sought — and received — an endorsement from Our Revolution, an organization that Sanders launched. In a January 19 interview, she denied that the organization's backing constituted nepotism.
"I haven't and I won't ask for Bernie's endorsement," Driscoll said Wednesday.
As for the ads, she said, Sanders agreed to let her use the photo. "It's a picture of me and one of my parents. I'm proud of him, and he's proud of me," she said. "It's just part of the campaign. It's one ad this week."