Meet 2020 Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders' Wife — Jane O’Meara Sanders

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Anyone who paid attention during the 2016 election knows who Bernie Sanders is. After announcing a presidential campaign in 2015, running as a Democrat as opposed to an Independent, he successfully influenced millions of people across the country, running a platform supported by donations that averaged just $27 per person. His rejection of corporate funds and Super PACs set him apart from the rest.

Though he did not win, he still urged supporters to continue the “political revolution” that his campaign started, and he still speaks out on behalf of his values. But before being elected as the longest-serving Independent in Congressional history, and elected to the Senate in 2007, he was part of the U.S. House of Representatives. He was also mayor of Burlington and was re-elected three times.

Now, Sanders is hoping to defeat Donald Trump and win the 2020 presidential election. He made an official announcement in February 2019 in an email, stating, “Together, you and I and our 2016 campaign began the political revolution. Now, it is time to complete that revolution and implement the vision that we fought for.”

RELATED: 11 Bernie Sanders Memes For Those Of Us Who Really Miss Him Right Now

But who is Bernie Sanders’ wife? She’s stood by his side every step of the way and often accompanied him when he was campaigning. But does she share the same ideals and values? What is life like for their family?

Here's everything to know about Jane O’Meara Sanders, including how she's helped throughout his political career, the allegations made against her, and Bernie's alleged feud with Senator Elizabeth Warren.

1. She has multiple college degrees.

While she originally dropped out of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, she received her bachelor’s degree in social work from Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont. She also has a doctorate in leadership studies in politics and education from Union Institute & University.

2. Who is Jane O'Meara Sanders? She has quite a long career history.

Sanders has worked in the Juvenile Division for the Burlington Police Department, as a community organizer with the King Street Area Youth Center, and for Volunteers in Service to America. After that, for about 10 years, she was Director of the Mayor's Youth Office and Department Head in Burlington.

She was elected as a School Board Commissioner and helped found the Women's Council & the Film Commission. After her husband was elected as Mayor, she worked in his office as a volunteer.

3. They met during his campaign for Mayor.

The couple met just ten days before Sanders won his campaign for Mayor of Burlington, and again at his victory part. The two grew up only 15 blocks away from each other in Brooklyn, New York!

Though they didn’t marry until many years later, she described the moment she met him:

“I sat down and said, ‘Who’s Bernie Sanders?’ They said, ‘He’s running for mayor.’ I said, ‘Let’s organize a debate.’ So we did. He came, and everyone was swarming around him and the other candidates, because they weren’t supportive of the mayor, so, being the good Catholic girl, of course I was very nice to the mayor and barely even said hello to Bernie. But when I heard him speak, well, that was it. The police department I was working with supported him after that, and he won 10 days later. We met at the victory party, and that was the beginning of forever.”

4. Both O'Meara and Sanders were previously married.

O’Meara was married to her first husband, David Driscoll, and had three children together: Heather, Carina, and David Jr. Carina served as a State Representative in the Vermont House of Representatives from 2001-2003, and had an unsuccessful run for Mayor of Burlington, Vermont in 2018. O'Meara and Driscoll divorced shortly after David, Jr. was born.

Sanders was also married to his first wife, Deborah Shiling Messing, his college sweetheart. They were married for two years before divorcing in 1966, and had no children. However, Sanders does have a son, Levi Sanders, from a relationship with his girlfriend, Susan Campbell Mott.

5. The couple have no children together.

Though they don’t have biological children together, Sanders considers his wife’s three kids to be his own. From their blended family, the two have seven grandchildren as well.

RELATED: Everything You Need To Know About Bernie Sanders' Son Levi And His Political Ambitions

6. O'Meara was president of Burlington College.

For 7 years, from 2004 to 2011, Sanders served as President of the small liberal arts college. She was responsible for increasing the school’s fundraising and oversaw a purchase of property intended to grow enrollment from 200 to 750 students. Talk about a small school.

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7. But she’s accused of bankrupting the college.

The purchase of the property may have led to financial ruin, as the college was cash-strapped and struggled to meet payroll. She allegedly “over-leveraged the institution by borrowing $10 million to finance a risky campus expansion, assuming she could make payments by increasing enrollment and donations during an economic downturn.”

She was never formally charged and resigned in 2011. The college closed in 2016, and an investigation into the matter was closed in November 2018.

8. She’s since become her husband’s advisor.

Aside from working alongside him during his presidential campaign, Sanders has described his wife as “one of my key advisors,” employing her as “an administrative assistant, spokeswoman, policy adviser, chief of staff, and media buyer.” She’s also served in his Congressional office as Chief of Staff and Press Advisor.

9. Bernie is incredibly proud of her.

In an interview with the Burlington Free Press, he said, “Obviously, Jane has played an important role in the congressional office. Yes, she is a soulmate, a sounding board.” And at a town hall event, when asked what his proudest moment was, he said it was being married to Jane for 27 years. How sweet!

10. They have a passion for helping others.

As evident by his platform, Sanders has a knack for wanting the best for the American people. And it’s this shared value that brought them together. Bernie grew up in a small apartment, while Jane’s father suffered health issues when she was just a child. They couldn’t afford medical care for his broken hip, which inspired her to want to help.

They both believe college should be affordable and that the country needs to invest in young people to carry out these “bold” ideas. Both think with empathy, a quality that is extremely rare in politics.

11. She’s learned a lot from him.

Before meeting, she joined protests against the Vietnam War, but was close to quitting politics when Richard Nixon won the re-election. After hearing her now-husband speak, she “learned the right way to be a public servant,” all from him.

But Bernie Sanders also learns from O'Mear, and has said that she isn’t afraid to offer constructive criticism. “She lets me have it if she thinks I made a mistake,” he’s said.

12. Jane O'Meara co-founded the Sanders Institute.

A few years ago, Sanders co-founded a progressive think tank known as The Sanders Institute with her son, David, Jr. However, in March 2019, the institute revealed that it was going to shut down its operations and stop accepting any donations, at least until Bernie's presidential campaign ends.

After criticism rolled in about the decision, Jane commented, saying, "We didn’t think about the Clinton or the Trump foundation. We just thought, I’m going to be very active [in the presidential campaign]... it’s just too mushy — it could become too mushy. We wanted to safeguard it. It’s a suspension, not a shutdown."

13. She has weighed in on Bernie's alleged comments and feud with Warren.

Sanders has reportedly been caught in a feud with Senator Elizabeth Warren since 2018 over comments he made during a private meeting at Warren's apartment. Warren accused Sanders of saying that a woman couldn't be president or even win the presidency.

However, O'Meara recently made an announcement following coverage of these supposed comments. “I think that this discussion is over,” she said. O'Meara also added, “We remain committed to continuing a progressive movement made up of women and men, black and white, gay an straight. The message is unity.”

She then described Bernie as “a person that everybody can trust," and mentioned Warren. “Maybe people sometimes misremember things that happened. But I know without a doubt that it is not anything Bernie would ever say. It is inconceivable because it’s not what he believes. And there’s proof of that going back many, many years. I’m not attacking Elizabeth Warren in any way, shape or form on this. My message is Bernie is trying to bring people together,” she said.

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Samantha Maffucci is an associate editor for YourTango who focuses on writing trending news and entertainment pieces. In her free time, you can find her obsessing about cats, wine, and all things Vanderpump Rules.

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