Sanders throws weight behind candidates challenging Democratic incumbents

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Sen. Bernie Sanders on Tuesday backed six progressive insurgent candidates in upcoming Democratic primaries, including two contenders who are challenging high-profile House Democrats.

And the independent lawmaker’s also at odds with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) -- endorsing a rival candidate to the contender the Senate Democrats’ political arm is supporting in Kentucky.

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The endorsements – which Sanders made in a Medium post and on Twitter – are his most high-profile push to support fellow progressives since April, when he ended his second straight bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

"One of the ways we must continue building that movement is by electing progressives at all levels of government. Because the truth is, real change never happens from the top on down. It happens from the bottom on up,” Sanders emphasized.

Among those he’s backing is Jamaal Bowman, a public school teacher and principal in the New York City borough of the Bronx who is primary challenging longtime Rep. Eliot Engel, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Bowman was also supported by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who represents the neighboring 14th Congressional District.

Sanders also endorsed Cori Bush, a nurse and activist running for a second straight time against Rep. Lacy Clay, a Congressional Black Caucus member who’s represented Missouri’s 1st Congressional District for nearly two decades. Clay succeeded his father, who served three decades in Congress.

In Kentucky’s Democratic Senate primary, Sanders backed first-term state Rep. Charles Booker, who’s spotlighting his support for Sanders’ "Medicare-for-all" bill as well as the Green New Deal. The DSCC has endorsed Amy McGrath, a former Marine fighter pilot who narrowly lost her 2018 bid in Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District.

The winner will face off in November against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the chamber.

Both Kentucky and New York hold primaries on June 23.