Senator Bernie Sanders is in. He announced his bid for the presidency over the Summer.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Sanders moved to Vermont after graduating from the University of Chicago. His first successful run for office came in 1981 when he was elected Burlington's mayor by a mere 10 votes. He was elected as Vermont's at-large member of Congress in 1990 and jumped to the Senate in 2007. Sanders is the longest-serving independent in congressional history.
Sanders enters a race that has so far been dominated by Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former secretary of state and Democrats' prohibitive favorite for the nomination. For most of 2015, Sanders has been reticent to attack Clinton, but he recently has issued statements calling on her to change her policy positions.
Sanders caucuses with the Democrats in the Senate but is an unlikely candidate for the Democratic nomination, primarily because he has never been a registered member of the party and calls himself a "democratic socialist."
The independent Vermont senator railed against the political machine — blasting "ugly 30-second ads," billionaire big-money donors and other "soap opera aspects of modern campaigns" — in a press conference kicking off his candidacy outside the Capitol.
"People should not underestimate me," Sanders told The Associated Press. "I've run outside of the two-party system, defeating Democrats and Republicans, taking on big-money candidates and, you know, I think the message that has resonated in Vermont is a message that can resonate all over this country."
Sanders is an outspoken critic of Wall Street banks and the outsized influence of money in politics and is a supporter of universal health care. He regularly talks about the need to rebuild the middle class and raise taxes on America's highest earners.
In interviews before his campaign announcement, Sanders said trade, income inequality and health care would be key tenants of his run.
Sanders does not have the personality of a typical politician. He is sometimes gruff and blunt, dispensing with social niceties and usually getting right to the point. He has come to be known as much for his fly-away hair as his passionate speeches in the Senate -- and has bluntly lamented the way political journalism in the United States focuses on personality.
"I think this is not about personality," Sanders told CNN earlier this year, raising his Vermonter-by-way-of-New York voice. "I am not a singer, I am not a dancer, I am not an entertainer."