Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders attracted throngs of supporters this weekend at rally for Atlanta mayoral candidate Vincent Fort, calling him a “fighter who works for families” and the only candidate poised to bring his populist insurgency to the heart of the South.
“Mayor Fort understands that the future of this city, this state and this country is with our children,” Sanders said to a roar of applause on Saturday, “and we’re going to invest in our country.”
Fort, a former state senator, has made little secret that he’s trying to model his bid to succeed Mayor Kasim Reed on Sanders’ insurgent presidential campaign. He’s called for the decriminalization of marijuana, free tuition at Atlanta city colleges and the end of special tax breaks for big developments. And he backed Sanders’ 2016 presidential bid shortly before Georgia’s primary.
The liberal icon has returned the favor by endorsing Fort’s candidacy and sending a stream of fundraising appeals for his bid. At Saturday’s rally, he urged his supporters to show up in force on Nov. 7, promising the crowd he would invite Fort to Congress to testify about a “Medicare for all” system.
Fort is among about a dozen politicians running for mayor, and public polling shows the muddled field has yet to crystallize. November’s vote will be a test of the Vermont populist’s appeal, and Fort is banking on Sanders’ support propelling him to the top of the pack.
Hillary Clinton overwhelmed Sanders in Georgia’s March 2016 primary – he lost Atlanta’s Fulton County by a whopping 42 points. But Sanders is enjoying a resurgence since Donald Trump’s victory. Polls show his popularity has soared, and his policy initiatives – such as his call for a single-payer healthcare system – are gaining traction among Democrats.