-- Name: Bernard “Bernie” Sanders
Party: Independent, but has described himself as a “Democratic socialist,” and is running for president in the Democratic primary.
What he does now: Served as Vermont’s junior senator since 2006. Together with his 16 years of service in the U.S. House of Representatives (1990-2006), Sanders is the longest-serving independent in American Congressional history.
What he used to do: Before coming to Washington, Sanders served as the mayor of Burlington, Vermont for eight years. He also spent time working as a carpenter and filmmaker. In 1979 he made a 26-minute audio documentary on American socialist icon Eugene Debs.
Declared as a candidate: April 30, 2015
In his own words: "I am running for president. I intend to stand up and fight for working families all over the country."
Early political experience: As a student at the University of Chicago, Sanders became politically active in the Civil Rights Movement. Later, he lived on a kibbutz, an Israeli collective farm, for six months. Before winning his first election for Burlington mayor by just ten votes, he unsuccessfully sought higher office in Vermont as a candidate of the leftist Liberty Union Party. But his earliest encounter with politics may have come in high school, when he lost a bid for student body president, but saw his proposal to raise scholarship money for Korean orphans adopted by the winner.
Where he comes from: Born in Brooklyn in 1941 to immigrant parents, he attended James Madison High School, also the alma mater of New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. He graduated from the University of Chicago.
What he believes in: Taking Wall Street to task and addressing income inequality. Sanders has called himself the only candidate "prepared to take on the billionaire class" in an appearance on ABC's This Week. He also wants to make college free and supports a $1 trillion program to rebuild the nation’s roadways and bridges.
Favorite kind of music: Folk. He even recorded an album of folk ballads released in 1987.
Favorite date spot: The New York Public Library. As a high schooler, Sanders would ride the subway into Manhattan to take girls to the library on 42nd Street (home of the reading room of “Ghostbusters” fame).
Might have wished for a do-over: Perhaps frustrated with the Clinton Administration in July 1992, while on the House floor, Sanders compared the White House to “a mental hospital where people are completely divorced from reality.”
Family tree: Sanders father, Eli, immigrated from Poland to New York City more than two decades before his son was born. The rest of his family – who stayed in Poland – died in the Holocaust. Sanders has four children with Jane O’Meara Sanders, his second wife of more than 25 years: David, Levi, Carina and Heather. The senator also has seven grandchildren.
Not the first: Presidential candidate from Brooklyn. That distinction actually belongs to New York Rep. Shirley Chisholm, an African-American woman who ran as a Democrat in 1972.
Also known for: Smoking pot. He has acknowledged that he tried marijuana “a couple of times when I was young.” (At the 2015 White House Correspondents’ Dinner in Washington, President Barack Obama poked fun at the potential presidential candidate saying, “Bernie Sanders might run. I like Bernie. Bernie’s an interesting guy. Apparently some folks really want to see a pot-smoking socialist in the White House. We could get a third Obama term after all!”)