In 1981, Sanders made an independent bid for mayor of Burlington as a self-described socialist.He won by 10 votes over the city’s Democratic mayor and two other independents, and went on to win three more terms.You are what you say you are In his 2016 presidential bid, Sanders seems to oscillate between labeling himself as a Democrat and being an independent.But that’s neither inaccurate nor particularly unusual, experts said.In November, Sanders announced that he was full-fledged Democrat and declared as a Democrat in New Hampshire.But, as we previously noted, he’s still calling himself an independent in some cases, so it’s unclear how committed Sanders is to any label. Experts said it probably doesn't matter to his candidacy.By 1997, Sanders was still not a member of the House Democratic Caucus nor a Democrat.But he voted with the party more often than the average Democrat (95 percent of the time opposed to 80 percent).
Sanders had no Democratic challenger that year, and a spokesperson for his Republican opponent called Sanders "an adjunct to the Democratic Party" according to the that he felt like he was "caught in a Kafka play." Sanders wouldn’t have another Democratic opponent until 2004.
He told the that Sanders "became a full-time Democrat" in 1984, when he campaigned for Democratic presidential candidate Walter Mondale.
Yet Sanders continued to fight with the party locally and his "goal was the destroy Democrats," Maurice Mahoney, the head of Burlington’s Democratic Party in the 1980s, told .
He also mounted independent challenges against Democrats, including Vermont’s first female Democratic governor in 1984, and reiterated that he had no party affiliation.
"I am not now, nor have I ever been, a liberal Democrat," he said in a 1985 .