Undated photo of Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. David Zuckerman from a previous campaign
Updated at 4:46 p.m.
Vermont's most influential politician has thrown his weight behind Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman's gubernatorial campaign.
In a written statement Monday morning, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) encouraged Vermonters to vote for Zuckerman in the August 11 Democratic primary.
"I am proud to endorse David and know he will continue to ensure Vermonters have an economy that works for all of us, by growing good paying Vermont jobs, fighting climate change and leading a progressive recovery out of this pandemic," Sanders said in the statement, highlighting Zuckerman's support for a higher minimum wage and marriage equality. "I hope you will join me in supporting David to be our next Governor."
The two progressive pols have been allies for decades. Zuckerman credits Sanders with inspiring him to become involved in politics in 1992 when the former was a student at the University of Vermont and the latter was a member of the U.S. House. That fall, according to Zuckerman, he volunteered on Sanders' reelection campaign and helped to register fellow UVM students to vote. Zuckerman stumped for Sanders during the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, spent time with him the night of the New Hampshire primary and spoke at his Super Tuesday rally in Essex Junction.
Sanders has endorsed many of Zuckerman's previous runs for office but held off this year until two weeks before the election. As of Monday, according to the Secretary of State's Office, 132,093 Vermonters had already requested absentee ballots and 39,726 had returned them to town clerks.
Sanders’ endorsement could provide a significant influx of cash to Zuckerman’s campaign — just days before the final fundraising reporting deadline of the primary election. By Monday afternoon, Sanders had already emailed his extensive list of supporters to ask for a $6 donation to split between five men running for office this year: Zuckerman, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and New Hampshire gubernatorial candidate Andru Volinsky.
In his own written statement, Zuckerman said he was honored by Sanders' endorsement. "As Governor, I look forward to working with him, other elected leaders and activists from across Vermont to create programs and policies that support struggling Vermonters and build a clean, green economy out of this pandemic," he said.
Zuckerman faces former education secretary Rebecca Holcombe, Bennington attorney Pat Winburn and Wallingford activist Ralph Corbo in the Democratic primary. They each seek to challenge incumbent Republican Gov. Phil Scott in the general election.