MONTPELIER — U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders backed state Sen. David Zuckerman Tuesday in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor one week before the Aug. 9 primary.
The endorsement from Sanders, who found surprising success in the Democratic primary for president, could help move voters into Zuckerman’s corner. Sanders has offered his endorsement to Zuckerman before in his legislative races. It’s the first statewide endorsement Sanders has made this cycle in Vermont.
“I have known and worked with David Zuckerman for almost 25 years. David is one of the outstanding members of the legislature. He has helped lead the fight in Montpelier for livable wages, family supported agriculture, GMO labeling, sustainable energy, marriage equality, and other issues important to working families,” Sanders said in a statement. “In the Vermont House and more recently in the Vermont Senate David has earned a reputation as a fighter who is not afraid to stand up to the big money interests. I am confident that he will be an excellent Lieutenant Governor.”
Zuckerman, who serves as a Progressive and Democrat in the Vermont Senate, has frequently touted his support for Sanders and Sanders’ previous endorsements of his campaigns on the campaign trail and interviews.
“I am so honored that Bernie Sanders is supporting our campaign. For more than 20 years Bernie has inspired me to envision what government can and should be with respect to economic, social, and environmental justice,” Zuckerman wrote in an email to supporters Tuesday afternoon.
Sanders secured 86 percent of the vote in Vermont’s presidential primary earlier this year. His endorsement could have an outsized impact on a race that has largely flown under the radar in favor of gubernatorial contests.
House Speaker Shap Smith, one of Zuckerman’s primary opponents, had endorsed Sanders presidential primary rival Hillary Clinton. Burlington Rep. Kesha Ram had backed Sanders in the presidential primary.
Sanders endorsed Burlington Rep. Chris Pearson, a Progressive, in May and asked his millions of supporters in an email to financially support Pearson’s campaign. That resulted in tens of thousands of dollars flowing into Pearson’s coffers. There was no indication Tuesday that Sanders would ask his supporters to contribute to Zuckerman’s campaign in a similar way.