Liberal host-turned-congressional hopeful Cenk Uygur announced Friday he will not accept endorsements anymore following Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., receiving backlash for announcing his support of the candidate.
Uygur, a former MSNBC host who founded the progressive digital outlet The Young Turks, formally launched his bid last month to take over California’s 25th Congressional District seat left vacant by Democratic Rep. Katie Hill, who resigned amid multiple sex scandals.
On Thursday, Sanders had formally endorsed Uygur’s congressional bid.
“I’m endorsing Cenk because I know he will serve ordinary people, not powerful special interests. He is a voice that we desperately need in Congress & will be a great representative for CA-25 and the country,” Sanders said in a statement released by the Uygur campaign.
“Cenk has been a strong advocate of Medicare for All and believes that healthcare is a human right, not a privilege,” Sanders had said. “He understands that climate change is an existential threat to our country and the planet, and will fight for a Green New Deal.”
The presidential hopeful added: “For years, Cenk has inspired people all across the country to organize against corrupt forces in our politics, and now he’s organizing the people in his district to do the same.”
However, the 2020 candidate faced a fierce backlash among other progressives for endorsing Uygur. They referenced the candidate’s history of controversial remarks — including derogatory comments about women, his repeated use of the N-word and past comments expressing support for bestiality.
Amid the pile-on, Uygur announced he would not accept any endorsements.
“I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the endorsements of Bernie Sanders, Ro Khanna, Nina Turner & local progressive groups that gave me their support. Their stance took real courage in the face of the corporate media and Democratic establishment onslaught,” Uygur said Friday. “I want to be free of any influence other than the voters of CA-25.”
“I will not be beholden to corporations, lobbyists or special interest groups, and I will not stand by while those groups attack my political allies,” he continued. “That’s why I have decided that I will not be accepting any endorsements.”
“My job is to represent the voters and the voters alone. The only endorsements I’ll be accepting going forward is that of the voters of CA-25,” he added.
Sanders formally retracted his support in a statement Friday.
“As I said yesterday, Cenk has been a longtime fighter against the corrupt forces in our politics and he’s inspired people all across the country,” Sanders said. “However, our movement is bigger than any one person. I hear my grassroots supporters who were frustrated and understand their concerns. Cenk today said he is rejecting all endorsements for his campaign, and I retract my endorsement.”
Also vying for Hill’s congressional seat is former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos. The special election is scheduled for March.
Fox News’ Andrew Craft contributed to this report.
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