Sen. Bernie Sanders received his third congressional endorsement on Friday, from Rep. Peter Welch, a move that also gives the Vermont independent his first congressional backing in his home state.
In an interview with Vermont Public Radio, Welch said he will throw his support behind Sanders in the state’s presidential primary contest next month, and as a super-delegate at the Democratic National Convention in July.
“I’ll be voting [on March 1]. And I’ve decided to vote for Bernie Sanders,” Welch said. “And as a super-delegate, I’ll follow through and vote for him when we get to the convention in July.”
Welch cited the presidential hopeful’s “consistent message on income inequality, and trying to make the economy work for the middle class,” as his reasons for supporting Sanders.
“You have got to admire his consistency, and it’s clear that [his] message is really resonating around America,” he added. “I’m a Vermonter. Bernie’s a Vermonter, and he’s running an extraordinary campaign. And my view is, let’s give him a shot.”
Welch, Vermont’s only representative in Congress, is the first high-profile elected official from the Green Mountain State to back the democratic socialist’s presidential bid. He joined Congress in 2007 after Sanders was elected from the House to the Senate in 2006.
Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin and Sen. Patrick Leahy have both endorsed the senator’s Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, along with former Govs. Howard Dean and Madeleine Kunin.
The endorsement comes as the latest poll shows Sanders gaining ground on Clinton nationally. According to the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll results released on Thursday, 53 percent of Democratic primary voters said they back the former secretary of state, while 42 percent of them support the senator.
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), the co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which Sanders helped co-found as a member of the House of Representatives in 1991, are the two other members of Congress who have endorsed the senator. Clinton, on the other hand, has collected several endorsements from House and Senate Democrats.