While Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont, has set grassroots fundraising records for his own candidacy, Clinton’s campaign has criticized him for not doing more to help raise the profile of progressive candidates for federal and state offices as he rallies his supporters. Sanders had previously said, “We’ll see,” when asked whether he would fundraise on behalf of other candidates.
But Sanders has begun to rebut that criticism, fundraising for three House candidates in April, and for another this past week. On Tuesday, Sanders went further, endorsing eight state legislative candidates “who embody the spirit of our political revolution.”
“No president, not Bernie Sanders, not the greatest president you could possibly imagine, can take on the billionaire class alone,” Sanders wrote in a fundraising email to his supporters. “And that’s because change never happens from the top down, it always occurs from the bottom up.”
The candidates Sanders named in his email are South Carolina state Reps. Justin Bamberg and Terry Alexander; Wisconsin state Rep. David Bowen; South Dakota House candidate Clara Hart; Illinois state Rep. Carol Ammons; California state Senate candidate Jane Kim; Colorado state Rep. Joe Salazar; and Vermont state Senate candidate Chris Pearson.
Sanders noted that the next round of congressional redistricting in 2020 is approaching. Democrats would need to win back GOP-dominated state legislative chambers to have more of an influence on how districts are drawn, which is key to them taking back the U.S. House.
“Bernie believes that the path toward bold change requires leaders to take back control of state capitols around the country and ensure fair redistricting in 2020,” Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ campaign manager, said in a statement. “The leaders we’re raising money for today are the members of Congress, senators and presidential candidates of tomorrow.”
The House candidates Sanders had previously fundraised for, like Lucy Flores in Nevada, have seen a flood of donations to their campaigns after receiving Sanders' endorsement. Law professor Tim Canova, who is challenging Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz in Florida, received more than $250,000 from small-dollar donors after Sanders endorsed him in a fundraising email.
Clinton currently leads Sanders by roughly 270 pledged delegates as the end of the primary season approaches.