The long-shot challenger to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is running a no-holds-barred bare knuckles campaign to unseat the popular liberal with what NBC News is calling a “feisty” effort that includes an accusation that the former presidential hopeful has done serious damage to Democrats.
Jon Svitavsky, identified as a “homeless advocate who has never held public office,” has also lit into the partisans he expects to vote for him by telling them to stop “coddling” Sanders.
“I believe that Bernie Sanders’ entire involvement with the Democratic party has been devastating. I think it was a big mistake for the Democratic party to let him in in the first place.”—Jon Svitavsky, Democrat challenger
Sanders, who mounted a spirited challenge to Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2016 and did quite well in several primaries, is now in the spotlight due to an investigation of Burlington College finances. Sanders’ wife ran that school until it closed down, according to the NBC story.
By no small coincidence, Svitavsky reportedly attended that school.
Sanders’ image as something of a rebellious curmudgeon appealed to many voters during the primary season. Millions of Americans were demonstrably not ready to accept the notion that Clinton was somehow pre-ordained to become the first female president. Voters in key states with the right number of Electoral College votes didn’t see it that way.
There is more, however, between Svitavsky and Sanders, and it goes way back. It’s something of a feud that was explained matter-of-factly by Seven Days, an independent news and views publication in Vermont.
Back when Sanders was mayor of Burlington, more than 30 years ago, Svitavsky operated a homeless shelter with some stiff requirements that socialist Sanders reportedly didn’t like. Here’s how the story, which appeared last week, put it:
“Svitavsky directed the Burlington Emergency Shelter, which refused entry to anyone drunk or on drugs, and required them to seek help or find work. By his account, his shelter ran into opposition from then-Burlington mayor Sanders, who was — again, by Svitavsky’s account — opposed to the Emergency Shelter’s stance against drugs and alcohol. The Sanders’ administration eventually set up a shelter called the Waystation, which placed no conditions on entry and resulted, according to Svitavsky, in an abrupt increase in the city’s homeless population.
“I became very disillusioned with Sanders,” Svitavsky says.”
That description is interesting because it is reminiscent of recent complaints at the far end of the country about how the City of Seattle and its far-left mayor, Ed Murray, have addressed homelessness and drug abuse. Services provided to the homeless allegedly have attracted a growing number of such people to the Seattle area. Efforts to open “safe injection sites” in Seattle and King County have given rise to assertions that this attracts drug addicts to the region as well.
Murray, who is not running for re-election, has proposed various tax schemes to pay for these services. The city also wants to tax the income of people making more than $250,000 a year, which opponents say is illegal and unconstitutional under Washington State’s constitution.
Whether Svitavsky has even a remote chance of unseating Sanders is a matter of pure speculation at this point. However, with the investigation over Burlington College dogging him, there just might be a spark that becomes a fire.
After all, Sanders surprised Clinton and her fawning media fans. Karma might come calling if Sanders runs again, as anticipated, and he may “feel the burn” rather than the Bern.