Who Is Bernie Sanders' Son? Everything You Need To Know About Levi Sanders And His Political Ambitions

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bernie sanders holding envelope in front of american flag

Senator Bernie Sanders was a 2020 presidential candidate whose irascible style some find inspiring while others find abrasive. 

Often with his trademark bluster on full display, Bernie is a big or maybe even the biggest supporter of Medicare for All, taxing corporations, and student loan forgiveness. 

But, unlike other candidates, the Democratic Socialist didn't tend to tell any personal stories. Family tales just aren’t how Bernie communicates, but he does have a family, including four children.

His only biological child is his son, Levi, is a progressive activist and political hopeful in his own right.

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Who is Bernie Sanders' son, Levi Sanders? 

52-year-old Levi is one of four children in the family, but is the only biological son of Bernie Sanders and Susan Campbell Mott. Mott was Bernie's ex-girlfriend, and the two of them were able to share custody of Levi from an informal arrangement. 

Levi’s siblings are the children of Sanders’ current wife, Jane O'Meara Sanders, from her previous marriage.

Sanders was married one other time to Deborah Schilling, with whom he had no children, though for years reporters erroneously believed Levi to be her son. Bernie did nothing to correct that impression.

However, Levi was born after his divorce, the child of a short-lived relationship Bernie had with Levi’s mother, Susan Campbell Mott.

While the couple did not maintain a romantic relationship over the years, Bernie moved to Burlington to be closer to Levi and has been an involved parent for his entire life. Bernie has been married to Jane Sanders since 1988.

Levi was born in Vermont.

Levi's mother, Susan Campbell Mott, gave birth to Levi, (pronounced "leh vee") on March 21, 1969 at Brightlook Hospital in St. Johnsbury, Vermont.

At age 19, Levi was introduced to his new stepmother, Jane O'Meara, after Bernie separated from Mott, and Jane gave Levi three new step-siblings. 

Levi had a dark and lonely childhood. 

According to a 2015 Politico profile titled "Bernie Sanders Has a Secret," Levi grew up very poor and, according to a source, had to deal with a "stark and dark" home life, even calling his father Bernard instead of dad or father. 

Bernie was among the working class, working odd jobs from carpentry to freelance writing, but he struggled while raising Levi. 

However, their life turned around in 1980, when Sanders decided to run for mayor and won by 10 votes. It ended up being a huge story in March of 1981 when he was officially an elected, making $33,800 and being able to support his family.

Reporters from the Boston Globe, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the New York Times, and Newsweek all interviewed the so-called "socialist" of the time.

Levi works as a legal analyst.

Much like his populist-minded dad, Levi has made a living doing things that help other people, according to his LinkedIn profile. He has a long history working at a Vermont food bank as a general manager.

Though he does not have a law degree, he currently works as a Social Security Senior Legal Analyst where he manages “Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Benefits specialist; represent clients in cases at initial, denial, reconsideration, administrative law and appeals council level.”

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Levi was married to Raine Riggs.

Levi was married to Raine Riggs, a neuropsychologist whose studies included the psychiatric syndromes connected to cancer diagnoses, something Bernie was interested in as early as the 1980s. 

The couple had three children, all adopted from China, and lived in New Hampshire. Sadly, Riggs passed away from neuroendocrine cancer in October 2019.

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Levi was a fixture in his father's campaign.

Levi has been a fixture on his father’s campaigns since he was two, often going along on campaign stops and being present at debates. By the time the Senator from Vermont was running for president in 2016, Levi had an official campaign job.

When Hilary Clinton was elected over Bernie for the democratic candidate in the 2016 race, Levi sent out a number of tweets to urge voters on Sanders' broader message.

"I can tell you, very clearly, that in 2016, there were going to be some real problems with electing Hillary Clinton. I talked to union folks who were die-hard Democrats and said they would never, ever, ever vote for Hillary Clinton," Levi Sanders said.

According to his LinkedIn page, he was the Senior Policy Strategist for the Sanders for Presidential campaign and listed his duties as “Lead legal and policy position analysis for Social Security, housing, health, and other campaign initiatives. Responsible for debate preparation and East Coast campaign fundraising efforts.”

He also listed himself as a consultant for the 2006 Sanders for Senate campaign, saying his duties were “Organized and facilitated campaign meetings and fundraising activities for successful VermontSenate campaign. Drafted position papers on Social Security, health care, housing, welfare reform, nutrition, and other social service issues."

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Does Levi has his own political aspirations?

While Levi has been part of his father's campaigns for many years, the same cannot be said for Bernie jumping in when his son unsuccessfully ran for office against Chris Pappas. Levi made a bid for a Congressional seat in New Hampshire, and Bernie conspicuously avoided endorsing him. 

When pressed on the matter, the Vermont Senator said, “Levi has spent his life in service to low-income and working families, and I am very proud of all that he has done. In our family, however, we do not believe in dynastic politics. Levi is running his own campaign in his own way.”

There were rumors at the time that “running his own campaign in his own way” was a veiled criticism for a campaign that many critics called inept. Political cynics wondered if Bernie thought his son’s mistakes would hurt his own bid for president in 2020.

But it should be noted that Bernie also declined to endorse his step-daughter, Carina Driscoll, who ran for mayor of Burlington, Vermont in 2017-2018 but lost to Miro Weinberger. So ,perhaps he just has a policy of not endorsing family members.

The younger Sanders claimed not to be bothered by not getting his famous father’s endorsement, saying, “He’s always believed, ever since I was little, that I have to stand up on my own.”

Levi Sanders supports much of the issues that Bernie was fighting for. 

Levi recently called out President Joe Biden for the airstrike on Syria, saying, "Focus on Medicare For All, debt free college, and $15 minimum wage along with addressing income and wealth inequality @POTUS, not air strikes on Syria."

It seems like Levi really does look up to his father, and even posted a tweet on Bernie's birthday in 2019.

Now that is the kind of positivity we need in American politics.

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Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. Her work has been seen at Ravishly, Babble, Scary Mommy, The Mid, Redbook online, and The Broad Side.