UChicago Alum Bernie Sanders, A Progressive Icon, Enters 2020 Presidential Race

He becomes the second alumnus to enter the presidential race, after Senator Amy Klobuchar who announced her candidacy last Sunday.


Institute of Politics

Sen. Sanders speaks at the Quadrangle Club in February, 2016 during an IOP event with Chris Matthews.

By Euirim Choi, Editor-in-Chief ('18–'19)

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (A.B. ’64) is once again running for president, almost four years after steering an unexpectedly strong progressive campaign that nearly defeated party heavyweight Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination.

Unlike in 2016, Sanders is entering a crowded field, this time running against several other self-styled progressives, many of whom have adopted and championed some of Sanders’s most popular and well-known proposals like Medicare for All and tuition-free college. Likely due to widespread name recognition, however, Sanders still enters the race as one of the frontrunners, according to early polling.

Raised in Brooklyn, Sanders attended Brooklyn College before transferring to the University of Chicago in 1960. Once there, Sanders joined the youth wing of the Socialist Party of America. Active in the growing Civil Rights Movement, Sanders participated in protests against the University’s policy to segregate white and Black students in University-owned apartments and protested police brutality. His time at the College would pave the way for a long career in politics, from mayor of Burlington to Representative to Senator. 

While having long since graduated, Sanders is no stranger to the University’s contemporary activism scene. In 2017, shortly after graduate students voted to unionize, Sanders sent a letter to University President Robert Zimmer urging him to respect the outcome of the vote. 

Sanders becomes the second major alum to announce their candidacy for president. Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar (J.D. ’85), a moderate Democrat, began her campaign last Sunday, February 10.