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Part II: The Mavericks: Bernie Sanders, Rand Paul, and Lincoln Chafee

A series by Miriam Raftery, Devoreo Bell and Juwan Armstrong

August 8, 2015 – the 2016 run for the White House includes some maverick candidates outside the traditional political track.  Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was an independent and avowed democratic socialist before declaring his run for the presidency as a Democrat. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is a Libertarian-leaning Republican on some issues, though not all, following in the footsteps of his Libertarian-turned-Republican father, former presidential candidate Ron Paul.  Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee was a liberal Republican before changing parties to run as a Democrat for the presidency.

Candidate: Bernie Sanders, Democrat

Bio Basics:  Bernie Sanders has served in the U.S. Senate representing Vermont since 2008 and in the House of Representatives from 1991 to 2007.  Sanders, 73, was the only independent in Congress before declaring in 2015 that he is running for President as a Democrat.  The son of Jewish immigrants from Poland, Sanders was raised in Brooklyn, New York, Bio.com reports.  Growing up in a working class family, he saw unfairness that became a driving force that led to his self-proclaimed “democratic socialist” political views. As a young man, he lived on a kibbutz in Israel, then studied psychology at the University of Chicago and participated in a civil rights march in Washington D.C. He worked as a filmmaker and freelance writer before winning office as  Mayor of Burlington, Vermont’s largest city, where he balanced budgets, undertook extensive downtown redevelopment  and negotiated lower cable rates for residents, the New York Times reports, before moving up to Congress.

Key issues:  Equality and eliminating the income disparity in America are the cornerstones of Sanders’ platform. In the Senate, he filibustered to block extension of Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy.  He favors increasing Social Security and Medicare benefits, paid for by increased taxes on the wealthy. He calls for greater oversight of Wall Street  and more protections for the middle class and working Americans. He wants to make higher education more affordable and go beyond “Obamcare” to instead embrace free universal healthcare for all Americans.  He has championed women’s rights including equal pay, is pro-choice on abortion, and supports gay marriage. Unlike his primary opponent, Hilary Clinton, Sanders voted against the Iraq War. On civil liberties issues, he sides with Libertarians, opposing the sweeping government collection of phone and e-mail records of millions of Americans.

Controversies:  To win office, Sanders must overcome both ageism and anti-Semitic bias among some voters. If elected, Sanders would be the oldest president in U.S. history—and the first Jewish one.  As a liberal from a rural state, his record on gun control has drawn criticisms from both sides; he supported a ban on assault weapons but voted against background checks.  Sanders also raised eyebrows over an erotic writing more than 40 years ago that included an abusive passage, Mother Jones reported; however his voting record has consistently been to protect victims of abuse including supporting the Violence Against Women Act.

Fascinating facts:  Sanders has succeeded in raising more money than every Republican candidate in the race, but his funding is from a broad base of small supporters –not huge corporate or special interest backers.  According to Politics USA, as of the last filing June 17th, Sanders had raised $8.3 million from 200,000 individual donors, with average donations of $45.

Odds of winning:  Although he has caucused with Democrats in both the House and Senate, his socialist leanings could be a tough sell to moderates if he should win the Democratic primary.  Though initially considered a long-shot, Sanders is now polling just 8 points behind Hilary Clinton in New Hampshire, a key early primary state. Bet Vega now places Sanders odds at 20 to 1.

Candidate:  Rand Paul, Republican

Bio Basics: Paul was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, son of U.S. Congressman and 2012 Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, who once ran as a Libertarian. Paul was raised as a Episcopalian in Lake Jackson, TX.

Following his father’s footsteps in the medical field, Paul attended Baylor University and then the Duke University Medical School. After meeting his wife during his internship the Georgia Baptist Medical Center in Atlanta and the couple married in 1991 and had three sons.

Paul started his political career when he founded the Kentucky Taxpayers United, a group that act as a watchdog over taxation and spending issues in the Kentucky state legislature until the group disbanded in 2000.

In 2008, after the beginning of the economic crisis in American, Paul became active in the Tea party. In 2009, Paul announced that he was running for a seat in the U.S. senate. On May 18, 2010, Paul won the primary against opponent Trey Grayson (Biography.com).

Key issues: (http://ballotpedia.org/Rand_Paul_presidential_campaign,_2016)

Economy: Paul believes in shrinking the size of government and eliminating federal departments such as Education.  He disagrees with Federal Reserves control of the money supply and interests rates and believes that the decisions should be exercised by the Congress . He disagrees with 2008 stimulus act and supports lowering taxes and government spending.

Foreign Policy:  Paul believes in negotiating with Tehran in efforts to reduce Iran’s nuclear ambitions that could result in war.

Immigration: He favors in granting temporary visas to people who entered the country illegally, however does not favor in granting them a pathway to legal citizenship.

Environmental: Paul believes that human activity plays a huge contribution to the climate change and he offered support for rules to reduce climate-warming emission.

Same-sex Marriage: He opposes same-sex marriage but believes that the states should have the power to make the decision on the issues.

Women’s Rights:  In 2013, Paul introduced a bill that would have declared life begins at conception, outlawing all abortions.  He has also led the battle in Congress seeking to defund Planned Parenthood. () He also voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against women Act.


Controversies:  Earlier this year, Rand Paul staged a successful filibuster in the Senate to block reauthorization of the Patriot Act. He drew praise from civil libertarians concerned about government spying on Americans’ phone and internet records, but scorn from conservatives who believed Paul put American security at risk.

Fascinating fact: According to aol.com, Paul never got his bachelor's degree. He left Baylor University to attend Duke University School of Medicine without having finished his undergraduate course work. At the time, Duke did not require an undergraduate degree if a student's test scores were adequate.

Odds of winning: According to New York Times, Paul’s ideology holds some appeal to  disaffected voters in both major parties. However, other Republicans view him as trying to isolate the U.S. from other countries since he favors in abolishing foreign altogether.  His Libertarian views on shrinking government and his extremist views on abortion also put him at the far right end of the spectrum, though his support for states’ rights to regulate marijuana has some appeal for younger liberal voters, making Paul a wild card in this race. But his odds have fallen at BetVegas after the Fox News primary; Paul is now ranked a 60- to-1 shot.

Candidate:  Lincoln Chafee, Democrat

Bio Basics: According to http://ballotpedia.org/Lincoln_Chafee , he was born and raised in Rhode Island to a prominent political family. He was an undergraduate at Brown University.

He became interested in politics in 1985 when he was a delegate to Rhode Island’s National Convention. The following year, he was victorious in the election to Warwick’s City Council. After he completed his term with city council, he became the city’s mayor in 1992 and eventually became a senator in Rhode Island in 1999.

In January 2010, he announced his campaign for governor. After a successful victory in his election as an independent he eventually switched to the being Democrat saying he was in support President Obama. In addition, Rhode Island was a predominantly Democratic state.

On June 3, 2015, Chafee announced his bid for President of the United States at George Mason University in Virginia,

Key issues:

Foreign Policy:  Chafee voted against authorizing the war in Iraq back in 2012. He stated that "it was all rhetoric about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq,: in an interview with ABC News recently.  He  favors strengthening relations with Iran, comparing former president Nixon approach with China in 1972 and visiting Beigjing. He also wants to improve relations with Russia to deal with problems like confronting the Islam state and dealing with Iran.

Environment: During his term has governor he signed a legislation to have the state of Rhode Island reduce greenhouse-gas emissions 80 percent by 20150.

Immigration: He supports establishing a guest worker program that would eventually lead to a path toward citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally.

Economy and the Budget:  Chafee supports in raising the minimum wage and is no stranger in embracing the Affordable Care act.  However, he does agree with Republican views including the supporting the privation of Social Security and approving of free trade agreements.

Controversies: In 2011 and 2012, Chafee came under fired calling the Rhode Island Christmas tree at the Rhode Island State House a “holiday tree.” He insisted that he was being inclusive and was “representating all of Rhode Island, I have to be respectful of everyone.” Some individuals call him a “Grinch.”

Fascinating fact: After completing his undergraduate degree, he studied at the Montana State University horseshoeing school in Bozeman, and spent seven years working as a farrier at racetracks in the U.S. and Canada.

Odds of winning: According to New York Times, Chafee is passionate about national security, which is the reason he sometimes calls out Clinton on her ideas. This could possibly work in his favor. However, it doesn’t appear that Chafee has set campaign infrastructure or strategy.  Additionally his switch in parties is problematic since such shifts often leave voters in both parties mistrustful of a candidate’s allegiances. He’s definitely a long shot in this race, ranked at 300 to 1 odds by BetVega.

(Note: Betting on American political races is not allowed in the U.S. but is legal overseas. We include Vegas oddsmakers' handicapping in this race solely for the education and entertainment of our readers.)