Bernie Sanders Got His First Senate Endorsement & Boy, Did He Need It
Following his recent streak of success, winning eight out of the last nine Democratic primaries, Bernie Sanders accomplished another campaign milestone on Wednesday — he finally garnered an endorsement from a fellow senator. Sanders' Senate compatriot, Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, penned an op-ed in The New York Times declaring his support for Sanders. "It is time to recommit ourselves to that vision of a country that measures our nation’s success not at the boardroom table, but at kitchen tables across America."
Merkley, who was elected to the Senate just two years after Sanders, in 2009, has served with Sanders on the Senate Budget Committee and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, as well as the Senate Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety and the Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure. They have also worked together on several bills, including the Equality Act, "a bill to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation, and for other purposes," which is currently sitting in the Senate Judiciary Committee awaiting a vote. Their strong professional relationships and similar political ideologies means Merkley's endorsement makes a lot of sense.
Merkley took a bold step in supporting Sanders, as more than 80 percent of current Democratic senators have endorsed Hillary Clinton thus far. But Sanders' winning streak and populist appeal is still giving his campaign hope for the White House. There are five Democratic or Independent senators left who haven't endorsed Clinton or Sanders yet: Christopher Coons (D - DE), Angus King (I - ME), Robert Menendez (D - NJ), Jon Tester (D - MT), and Elizabeth Warren (D - MA).
Securing those nominations is critical to the Sanders campaign moving forward, particularly from Coons and Menendez before their home states vote in primaries on April 26 and June 7, respectively. But moreover, if Sanders wants any chance of taking the party's convention, he needs the support any and all the high-ranking elected officials he can get.
Sanders' newest endorsement probably isn't the beginning of a wave of support rushing from one side of the Democratic primary to the other. But if he can pull off a win in the upcoming New York primary, Merkley might not be the only senator to start feeling the Bern. After this endorsement, a win in Sanders' home state would make his dreams of the White House more achievable than ever.