Former Democratic presidential candidate and progressive icon Bernie Sanders will come to Wichita next week to campaign for Congressional candidate James Thompson, the campaign announced Friday.
Accompanying Sanders will be Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a congressional candidate from New York who recently vaulted into the national spotlight with a progressive campaign that unseated incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley.
Thompson said he and his campaign are excited that Sanders will be here supporting him.
“It means what we’ve been saying all along, that we’re serious and we’re going to flip this district,” said Thompson, who has a book written by Sanders and a Sanders action figure on the bookshelf in his office.
“Bernie’s doing what he said he would do, which is he’s going into all districts, not just ones that are easily won,” Thompson said. “He’s going to go in and put his support behind people who are putting forth progressive principles. I ran on progressive principles and Bernie is doing what the national party should have done during the special election.”
While Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez self-identify as Democratic socialists, Thompson said he doesn’t.
But he said their policy platforms are “really close.”
He said they both support workers’ rights and oppose Republican policies that have shifted wealth from the poor and middle class upward to wealthy corporations and their owners.
Thompson said he is more in favor of free trade, although with protection for workers, than Sanders.
The Thompson campaign rally will take place at 1 p.m. July 20 at the Orpheum Theatre, 200 N. Broadway, Wichita.
Ticket information is available at www.votejamesthompson.com/unite.
Sanders, an independent U.S. senator from Vermont and self-described democratic socialist, energized hordes of progressive Democrats and filled stadiums across America for his rallies as he sought the Democratic nomination for president in 2016.
Although he lost to eventual nominee Hillary Clinton, Sanders emerged as a hugely popular figure and symbol of resistance for progressive and Democratic voters upset with Donald Trump’s administration.
Sanders is the most prominent voice of progressives in America and his endorsements and speaking engagements are highly sought by Democratic candidates.
Thompson is seeking the Democratic nomination for Kansas’ 4th District congressional seat, against Laura Lombard.
The winner of the Aug. 7 primary will face the Republican incumbent, Rep. Ron Estes, or a Republican challenger who also is named Ron Estes.
Thompson lost a close special election to Rep. Estes in April of last year, when they squared off to see who would replace former Rep. Mike Pompeo, who resigned from Congress to join the Trump administration as CIA director and has since been promoted to Secretary of State.
Sanders’ last public appearance in Kansas, in February of last year, drew a crowd of 4,000 to Topeka High School to rally and raise money for the state Democratic Party.
The capacity of the Orpheum is about 1,400.