Levi Sanders, the son of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), lost his bid for one of New Hampshire’s two U.S. House seats.
The younger Sanders ran far behind the top vote-getters among the 11 Democrats seeking the party’s nomination in Tuesday’s primary for the open seat in the 1st Congressional District. He was considered a long-shot candidate in the race, having raised less than $40,000, according to Federal Election Commission filings. His residence in the state’s 2nd Congressional District also hindered his campaign.
Chris Pappas, a former state legislator and current member of the Executive Council that advises New Hampshire’s governor, won the Democratic race.
Bernie Sanders, who as a fellow New Englander is popular in New Hampshire and won its 2016 Democratic presidential primary by more than 20 percentage points, did not endorse his son. He said in a statement early this year that the family does not “believe in dynastic politics. Levi is running his own campaign in his own way.”
Levi Sanders, 49, embraced very similar stances on the issues as his father had in his presidential bid, including supporting Medicare-for-all and tuition-free public colleges. Still, he told The New York Times in an August profile that “I’m not a clone of my father.”
“The reality is I am my own person,” he said. “My father didn’t represent people in legal services.”
The younger Sanders worked 18 years as a legal analyst specializing in Social Security benefits. He has not held public office but previously ran for and lost a race for the city council in Claremont, where he still lives, according to the Times.
Past controversies that plagued him included an aggressive online argument he carried on with fellow alumni of his 1987 high school graduating class in Burlington, Vermont, over the charging penalties to reunion attendees who didn’t RSVP (he was against it).
At an August debate in the primary race, Sanders had his microphone turned off by the moderator after refusing to stop talking when his allotted time expired. He was also booed by the crowd for attacking his fellow candidates.
New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District, which includes the city of Manchester and is currently represented by Democrat Carol Shea-Porter, has been one of the country’s most politically competitive for more than a decade. Holding onto it is a top priority for Democrats as they seek to wrest control of the House from the GOP.
Shea-Porter first won it narrowly against in 2006 against a Republican incumbent and then held onto the seat in 2008. But in the 2010 GOP wave that swept across the U.S., she lost it to Frank Guinta.
Shea-Porter won a rematch in 2012, only to lose to Guinta again in 2014. But she reclaimed the seat from him in 2016. She decided to retire after this term; Guinta, meanwhile, was not one of the six candidates in the GOP primary for the seat. In the Republican race, early returns showed former Liquor Commission official Eddie Edwards and state Sen. Andy Sanborn locked in a close race for the party’s nomination.