Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), a self-proclaimed Democratic socialist, will be signing an "affirmation" in the next week pledging he will run as a Democrat in 2020 and serve as one if elected to be the next president, according to his senior campaign adviser.
Jeff Weaver, who served as Sanders' campaign manager during the 2016 presidential campaign, told CNN that Sanders plans on signing the affirmation pledge when he meets with the Democratic National Committee. The DNC plans on meeting with presidential primary campaigns in the next week to distribute a form to the candidates, where they will have one week to return the form, according to CNN.
According to bylaws agreed upon by the DNC last August, the candidates are required "to affirm in writing" that they "are a member of the Democratic Party, will accept the Democratic nomination" and "will run and serve as a member of the Democratic Party."
"The DNC will present presidential campaigns that have currently announced their candidacy or the creation of an exploratory committee, with the rules and other materials next week at a briefing and this will include the candidate affirmation form," a DNC official told CNN. "As any additional candidates enter the race, they will be provided with the same information and will be required to return the form in the same time frame."
Sanders, who has declined the Democratic nomination for all three of his U.S. Senate campaigns, has identified as an independent, but caucuses with the Democrats, CNN reported:
Despite the criticism from some in the party, Sanders entered the 2020 race with stronger Democratic support than he had four years ago. The rest of his state's congressional delegation — Democrats Sen. Pat Leahy and Rep. Pete Welch — have endorsed him. In 2016, Leahy backed Hillary Clinton and Welch withheld his support for Sanders until just before the Vermont primary.
In 2016, he declared as a Democrat in New Hampshire to participate in the presidential primary there, as required by the state's rules. The move was challenged by a local Republican, but Sanders was ultimately permitted to run by the state's ballot commission since Vermont does not have party registration. New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley defended Sanders' placement on the party's ballot.