Bernie Sanders retirement speculation swirls

 January 1, 2024

Bernie Sanders is one of the last U.S. senators who hasn't said whether he will seek re-election in 2024 - sparking rumors of retirement. 

The two-time presidential contender is now 82, and his party is facing a potential wipeout in this year's Senate elections.

Sanders has until August to file for re-election, so it may be some time before his decision is clear.

Bernie retiring?

Sanders famously had a heart attack while campaigning for president in 2020 - and despite appearances, he is actually older than Joe Biden at 82.

If he served another complete term, he would be 89 at the end of it. Sanders' age does not make him an outlier in the Senate, however; Senator Dianne Feinstein (Ca.) died in office late last year at 90.

While Sanders faces no clear threat of losing re-election in Vermont, his age could become an issue - and he may be mulling the exits if his party loses the Senate next year. Republicans need to flip two seats to regain a narrow majority.

Democrats are fighting on unfavorable terrain, with vulnerable seats in West Virginia, Montana, Ohio and elsewhere.

The signs of that vulnerability were clear when Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat in pro-Trump West Virginia, announced his retirement in November.

What has Bernie accomplished?

The senator most often compared to Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema (Az.), is the only other Senator besides Sanders not to clarify her election plans.

Both Sinema and Sanders are nominally "independents," but they both caucus with Democrats.

Sanders ran for president, twice, as an anti-establishment progressive - but since his 2020 campaign fizzled out, he has given up any pretense of opposing the party elites who champion Joe Biden.

Many of Sanders' former socialist fans are likely disillusioned with his lukewarm response to the war in Israel, in particular.

Sanders, who is Jewish, has vocally criticized Israel's bombing in Gaza, but he has rejected the progressive left's demand for an immediate cease-fire.

“This is a humanitarian cataclysm, and it is being done with American bombs and money. We need to face up to that fact – and then we need to end our complicity in those actions,” Sanders said.

When the day comes for Sanders to step down, he will retire as a sell-out who achieved little of substance during his decades in office.

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