U.S. Senate candidate Adeluola files complaint about Sanders’ election strategy

By LISA SCAGLIOTTI

Folasade Adeluola, who challenged U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders in last week’s primary election, has filed a complaint with the state, saying she should be declared the Democratic nominee on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Last week, two-term incumbent Sanders won nearly 91 percent of the vote to Adeluola’s 5.4 percent, 63,683 to 3,766.

Adeluola, who’s new to both politics and Vermont, filed a complaint with the Vermont Secretary of State Office on the eve of the primary, decrying Sanders’ practice of declining the Democratic Party nomination and instead running as an independent in the general elections.

Sanders, who came close to winning the national Democratic nomination for president in 2016, has served in the U.S. Senate and earlier in the U.S. House of Representatives as an independent who caucuses and often votes with Democrats.

In his long career in Vermont politics, Sanders eschewed party labels, although his tenure as mayor of Burlington gave rise to Burlington’s Progressive Coalition as a third party in city and eventually state politics. Sanders’ congressional career began in 1990 when he won Vermont’s lone U.S. House seat.

Sanders, 76, is now seeking his third Senate term and is considered a potential contender for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020. His populist message has gained a strong national following as he promotes economic issues such as universal health care through a “Medicare for all” plan.

Adeluola, 55, says she is self-employed in insurance and accounting. She is registered to vote in Shelburne and cast her ballot in Shelburne Aug. 14. When filing to run for Senate, she listed her address with the Secretary of State as 3164 Shelburne Road — the address for Harbor Place, a motel run by the Burlington nonprofit Champlain Housing Trust for low-income and often long-term guests.

Originally from Nigeria, Adeluola said she is a single mother of a child with Down syndrome and heart issues; she says she has been an activist since 1994 when she became a U.S. citizen.

Adeluola argues Sanders was not “a true contestant” in the Democratic primary because he doesn’t accept the party nomination.

“The regularity of Sanders’ infidelity to the Democrat party and the Vermont primary process flies in the face of the clear intent of Vermont’s constitutional demand that ‘elections ought to be free and without corruption in electing officers to their government,’” her complaint states.

It says Sanders tries to “game” elections and keeps “legitimate” Democratic candidates off the ballot.

The complaint asks that the secretary of state declare Adeluola the “true candidate” and winner of the party’s nomination.

The Sanders’ campaign did not respond to a request for comment on the election complaint.

Last week Adeluola told VtDigger that Sanders is too focused on national politics and should no longer be representing Vermont. “He is cruising around the nation campaigning for 2020 instead of doing the right thing for Vermonters,” Adeluola said.

VtDigger also reported that Adeluola pointed to Sanders’ role in the 2016 election as a reason she moved to Vermont with the goal of running against him. “It is time for Bernie to retire, it is time for him to go,” Adeluola said. “He’s not a Democrat.”

Adeluola holds political views similar to Sanders such as supporting Medicaid and Medicare expansion, increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and interest-free student loans; she said she supports women, children, the disabled, veterans, and LGBTQ rights.

Despite Adeluola’s objections, the Vermont Democratic Party says it plans to throw its full support behind Sanders regardless of the label beside his name on the November ballot.

Adeluola has filed to be on the general election ballot as an independent, according to the state elections office.

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