Vermont's Sanders Aims for Congress

Article excerpt

ON a street corner in downtown Bennington one sunny October morning, congressional candidate Bernard Sanders stands out much like the surrounding red and orange fluorescent-colored autumn foliage.

With a wrinkled sports jacket and matted white hair, the former four-term socialist mayor of Burlington, Vt., waves to passing cars and shakes hands with pedestrians. "Bernie," as he is often called, stands out in more ways than just appearance. Unlike other socialist activists, he is out to win, say observers.

"Bernie likes to win," says Garrison Nelson, a University of Vermont political science professor. "Most socialist politicians like to lose because the losing process to them shows how corrupt the political process is."

In this election for Vermont's only seat in the US House of Representatives, Mr. Sanders, who is running as an independent, is faring well against GOP incumbent Peter Smith. A recent poll commissioned by the Rutland Herald shows a dead heat with 37.4 percent favoring Smith, 37 percent favoring Sanders, and 21 percent undecided.

Also running are Democratic candidate Dolores Sandoval and Peter Diamondstone of the Liberty Union Party. Ms. Sandoval, a University of Vermont professor, has drawn little support because of her radical ideas such as the legalization of drugs.

Political analysts say the race boils down to a Smith/Sanders contest about fundamental change vs. the status quo. Both candidates are pro-choice on abortion.

Sanders supports higher taxes for the wealthy, reducing the military budget by 50 percent, and creating a national health-care system. …