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Former NAACP head backs Sanders, Shumlin lowers expectations for Clinton

Ben Jealous (Courtesy photo)

MONTPELIER — Former National Association for the Advancement of Colored People President Ben Jealous officially endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders for president Friday afternoon, seeking to boost Sanders’ credibility with minority voters as the primary campaign grinds on after New Hampshire. “Throughout his life, he has been a fearless, tireless and trustworthy champion for the right of all our nation’s children to have full and unfettered access to the American dream,” the 43-year-old Jealous said on a conference call with reporters. Jealous, who was slated to appear alongside Sanders at a news conference in New Hampshire, did not arrive due to inclement weather. The campaign opted for a conference call instead. Jealous served as the youngest-ever head of the NAACP from 2008 to 2012. Continue Reading →

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Senate to reconsider small biz exemption for paid sick leave


MONTPELIER — A paid sick leave bill passed by the Senate Wednesday veered off course Thursday after a motion was made to reconsider a failed amendment seeking an exemption for small businesses. Sen. Bill Doyle, R-Washington, made the motion Thursday to reconsider his vote on the amendment introduced a day earlier by Sen. Brian Campion, D-Bennington. The amendment, which failed Wednesday on a 15 to 14 vote, seeks to exempt small employers with five or fewer full-time workers from the paid sick leave mandate. The Senate, after recessing to consider the matter, voted by voice to reconsider the amendment. A second voice vote postponed that action until Wednesday rather than face immediate consideration. Continue Reading →

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Shumlin administration to revise, rebid major AHS tech projects

Agency of Human Services Secretary Hal Cohen (File photo)

MONTPELIER — The Shumlin administration is planning to scuttle existing plans for major technology upgrades slated for the Agency of Human Services and begin the process anew using solutions developed in other states. Administration officials say contract negotiations for work on Integrated Eligibility and some major work on the Medicaid Managed Information System Core are being stopped and revised requests for proposals will be issued. The decision came from AHS Secretary Hal Cohen and is supported by the governor’s office and the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, according to Secretary of Administration Justin Johnson. “Since we released the Medicaid Management Information System (MMIS Core) and the Integrated Eligibility Solution (IE) RFP’s, the approach to these solutions has evolved significantly allowing us to be more strategic in building solutions that meet the needs of Vermonters, providers and staff,” Cohen wrote in an email to staff Wednesday afternoon announcing the decision. “This is our opportunity to reset. Continue Reading →

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Clinton takes caucuses — barely

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks to supporters from the bed of a pickup truck after arriving in New Hampshire early Tuesday morning. (Courtesy photo from the Sanders campaign)

DES MOINES, Iowa — The Iowa Democratic Party declared Hillary Clinton the winner of the Iowa Caucuses Tuesday afternoon, leaving both campaigns working to claim the narrative over what her slim margin over Sen. Bernie Sanders means. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, the state party said Clinton won 700.59 state delegates to Sanders’ 696.82. Clinton won 49.8 percent of the available state delegates, while Sanders secured 49.6 percent. The close result is somewhat of a disappointment for Clinton, who pundits largely believed would easily defeat the Vermont senator, who was unknown on the national stage when he launched his campaign last May. The political scene in Iowa was quiet Tuesday after the candidates and most of the media following them cleared out late Monday night or early Tuesday morning. Continue Reading →

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Bernie rallies the troops in New Hampshire

Bernie Sanders looks to rally the faithful in Keene, NH.

KEENE, N.H. — Coming off a strong performance in Iowa, Bernie returned to the Granite State on Tuesday to rally his supporters. With one week until the first presidential primary, Sanders preached to the faithful during a standing-room-only event at the Colonial Theatre, where he hit on his familiar themes of welfare inequality, education and youth unemployment, while cementing his lead over Hillary Clinton. “It sounds like you are ready for a political revolution,” Sanders told a roaring crowd who, prior to Sanders taking the stage, struck up an acapella rendition of “Revolution” by The Beatles “It sounds like you are tired of establishment politics and establishment economics.”

The event drew a crowd of the already-committed from all corners of New Hampshire. “I’m feeling the revolution,” said Susan Lynde, of Hinsdale, N.H. “I’m feeling it. I’m ready for a change. Continue Reading →

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Sanders declares a “virtual tie,” but supporters see a victory

Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt,  and his wave Jane acknowledge the crowd as he arrives for his caucus night rally in Des Moines, Iowa, Monday, Feb. 2, 2016.  (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

DES MOINES, Iowa — Sen. Bernie Sanders declared the Democratic Iowa Caucuses a “virtual tie” Monday night against rival Hillary Clinton, content to take his campaign on to New Hampshire where he holds a commanding lead in the latest polls. “Tonight, while the results are still not known, it looks like we are in a virtual tie,” Sanders said, after taking the stage at his Iowa caucuses watch party. “It looks like we’ll have about half of the Iowa delegates.”

“What Iowa has done tonight is begin a political revolution,” he added, the crowding roaring its approval. Clinton, meanwhile, took the stage at her event before Sanders and told supporters she was “breathing a big sigh of relief.” She stopped short of declaring victory, but her aides spent time telling the major news networks that they considered her the winner. “What Iowa has done tonight is begin a political revolution.”
— Sen. Bernie SandersWith 99 percent of precincts reporting as of 1:45 a.m. early Tuesday morning, Clinton, the former secretary of state, New York senator and first lady, had secured 49.9 percent of the state delegates up for grabs compared to the 49.6 percent won by Sanders. Continue Reading →

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Story & Video: Sanders delivers pep talk to volunteers ahead of caucuses

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks to volunteers at his Des Moines headquarters hours before caucuses begin. (VPB/Neal Goswami)

DES MOINES, Iowa — Bernie Sanders held an unscheduled pep rally for volunteers at his Des Moines headquarters Monday afternoon, seeking to boost the spirits of volunteers working to get voters to their caucus. The Vermont senator laid out the possible outcome Monday night in simple terms.

“We’ve got a time ballgame. That’s where we are. What every poll tells us and what every political pundit understands is the following, we will win tonight if the voter turnout is high. We will struggle tonight if the voter turnout is low. Continue Reading →

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Sanders hands fate in Iowa over to voters

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., left, stands with his wife Jane Sanders and waves to the crowd during a campaign rally at Grand View University, on Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

DES MOINES, Iowa — Bernie Sanders handed over the fate of his presidential campaign in Iowa to voters Sunday night after one final rally for 1,700 supporters less than 24 hours before the caucuses begin Monday night. Sanders sought to rally his backers on the eve of the caucuses at a packed gymnasium on the campus of Grand View University. The Vermont senator was retrospective, recounting the campaign’s early days eight months ago when it had no money, no organization and far fewer supporters. He thanked his team on the ground for helping to propel the campaign into a neck-and-neck race with primary rival Hillary Clinton. “Today as we prepare for the caucus tomorrow night, we have 15,000 volunteers throughout the state of Iowa and I want to thank them all,” Sanders said. Continue Reading →

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Story & Video: Sanders team focused on voter turnout in Iowa

Volunteers for the Bernie Sanders campaign work on contacting voters Saturday at a campaign office in Des Moines, Iowa. (VPB/Neal Goswami)

DES MOINES, Iowa — Bernie Sanders supporters, staffers and campaign surrogates are in a frenzy trying to motivate voters to back the Vermont senator on the eve of the Iowa caucus and deliver a major blow to rival Hillary Clinton. Voting Monday night won’t be simple or quick — the curious caucus system requires attendance at a meeting that can last up to three hours. Voters gather in groups with other supporters of a particular candidate. Any candidate that does not have 15 percent of the gathering is not considered “viable” and is eliminated. Those voters can then choose to back another candidate if they want. Continue Reading →

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Sanders takes in $20 million in January

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks at a rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Saturday, Jan. 20. (VPB/Neal Goswami)

DES MOINES, Iowa — The Sanders campaign announced Sunday, one day before the Iowa caucuses, that it raised $20 million in January with an average contribution of just $27. The large fundraising haul came from about 770,000 individual contributions, the campaign said, bringing his total individual contributions to 3.25 million for the campaign. That number is a record for any White House hopeful at this stage of the campaign. Even Better news for the Vermont senator is that 99.9 percent of its donors have not yet reached the contribution limits. The campaign noted Sunday that rival Hillary Clinton’s campaign has relied heavily on donors who have maxed out and can no longer donate. Continue Reading →

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