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"So it certainly does happen that candidates switch into and out of independent status, and I suppose they're called by whatever party they're running as at the time," said Marjorie Hershey, a professor of political science at Indiana University who specializes in political parties.Sanders listed the Democratic Party as his party affiliation in his statement of candidacy.So in 1991, Sanders along with four liberal Democrats founded the Congressional Progressive Caucus and he became its chairman.During his second year in office, Sanders continued to agitate and criticize Democrats, lumping them in with Republicans and call both parties’ tax proposals "grossly inadequate." At some point, Sanders began to win the goodwill of Democratic leadership, all the while refusing to join the party.

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"I am not now, nor have I ever been, a liberal Democrat," he said in a 1985 .Unlike elsewhere in the world, joining the two major parties isn’t contingent upon membership fees or an application process.Party leaders also don’t have the power to say someone isn’t a Democrat or a Republican.Bernie Sanders is called many things: independent, progressive, socialist, democratic socialist, social democrat, communist, Intrepid, the Vermont Bonecrusher, etc. "Bernie is a Democrat ‘some days,’ " California Sen.

Barbara Boxer, who supports Hillary Clinton, tweeted glibly on Feb. Responding to Boxer’s criticism during that night’s town hall in New Hampshire, Sanders said, "Of course I am a Democrat and running for the Democratic nomination." Despite this certainty, Sanders seems uncommitted to being committed to the party.

A month before he was re-elected to a third term in 1994, House Democrats blessed his claim for a leadership role on one of his committees.