Key things to know about independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is expected to enter the 2016 Democratic presidential campaign on Thursday, according to people familiar with his decision:
A self-described "democratic socialist" who says he likes Scandinavian-style government, Sanders was credited as mayor of Burlington in the 1980s with leading an urban rebirth in Vermont's largest city, then went on to serve eight terms in the U.S. House. He is in his second term in the U.S. Senate.
Sanders was active in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee while at the University of Chicago in the early 1960s. He joined the March on Washington, which featured the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech, in 1963. He later joined the influx of counterculture, back-to-the-land migrants to Vermont and held various jobs, including carpenter and filmmaker. He was an early member of the Vermont-based Liberty Union Party, but had more success running for office as an independent. Drawing on support from University of Vermont students and others, Sanders upset the longtime incumbent mayor of Burlington by 10 votes in 1981 and served the rest of the decade in that post. He won election to Vermont's lone congressional seat in 1990 and to the Senate in 2006. He has continued with the independent label, but he caucuses with Democrats and serves as ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee.
Bernie Sanders through the years
Key things to know about Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont
Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, speaks during an event in Iowa Falls, Iowa, U.S., on Monday, Jan. 25, 2016. With a week to go until the Iowa caucuses and the Democratic presidential race there in a virtual dead heat, Hillary Clinton and Sanders are mapping out divergent paths toward winning the first votes of the nomination process. Photographer: T.J. Kirkpatrick/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Washington, UNITED STATES: Newly-elected senators meet with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (R), D-NV, in Washington, DC 13 November 2006. From left are: Senator-elect James Webb, D-VA, Senator-elect Bernie Sanders, I-VT, Senator-elect Amy Klobuchar, D-MN, and Reid. AFP PHOTO/Karen BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)
US Congressman Elliot Engel (L) takes pictures next to US Senator Bernie Sanders after being dressed as Bouale leaders by public notaries of the Kouadioyaokro village, 150 km from Abidjan, 09 November 2008. US Senators Tom Harkin and Bernie Sanders visit comes ahead of a July 2008 certification deadline to ensure cocoa heading to the United States -- the third largest importer of Ivorian cocoa -- has not been produced with child labour. AFP PHOTO/ISSOUF SANOGO (Photo credit should read ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images)
COLUMBIA, SC - APRIL 25: Potential Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (R) (I-VT) delivers remarks at the South Carolina Democratic Party state convention April 25, 2015 in Columbia, South Carolina. Sanders joined former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and former Sen. Lincoln Chafee in speaking to the convention. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 20: U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) participates in a 'Don't Trade Our Future' march organized by the group Campaign for America's Future April 20, 2015 in Washington, DC. The event was part of the Populism 2015 Conference which is conducting their conference with the theme 'Building a Movement for People and the Planet.'
(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, an Independent from Vermont and 2016 U.S. presidential candidate, greets supporters during a campaign rally in Madison, Wisconsin, U.S., on Wednesday, July 1, 2015. Sanders said he had attracted 200,000 donors as of mid-June and his campaign had raised $8.3 million online through June 17, according to FEC filings by ActBlue, the fundraising platform that he and some other left-leaning candidates and causes use. Photographer: Christopher Dilts/Bloomberg via Getty Images
PORTLAND, ME - JULY 6: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at the Cross Insurance Arena while campaigning in the Democratic presidential primary. (Photo by Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
Supporters hold up signs at a campaign rally for Senator Bernie Sanders, an Independent from Vermont and 2016 U.S. presidential candidate, in Madison, Wisconsin, U.S., on Wednesday, July 1, 2015. Sanders said he had attracted 200,000 donors as of mid-June and his campaign had raised $8.3 million online through June 17, according to FEC filings by ActBlue, the fundraising platform that he and some other left-leaning candidates and causes use. Photographer: Christopher Dilts/Bloomberg via Getty Images
PORTLAND, ME - JULY 6: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at the Cross Insurance Arena while campaigning in the Democratic presidential primary. Sen. Bernie Sanders greets supporters after speaking in Portland. (Photo by Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
PHOENIX, AZ - JULY 18: U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks to the crowd at the Phoenix Convention Center July 18, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Democratic presidential candidate spoke on his central issues of income inequality, job creation, controlling climate change, quality affordable education and getting big money out of politics, to more than 11,000 people attending. (Photo by Charlie Leight/Getty Images)
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Sanders has said he grew up "solidly lower middle class" in a Jewish family in Brooklyn, and still carries that New York borough's thick accent. His father, an immigrant from Poland, sold paint for a living -and Sanders' views about the distribution of wealth were formed early. "A lack of money in my family was a very significant aspect of my growing up," he said in December. "Kids in my class would have new jackets, new coats, and I would get hand-me-downs."
CALLING CARD MOMENT
Sanders took to the Senate floor in December 2010 and thundered for more than eight hours about a tax-cut package and Congress' failure to provide enough money, in his view, for education and social programs. With his trademark sarcasm, he mocked the rich, yelling: "How can I get by on one house? I need five houses, 10 houses! I need three jet planes to take me all over the world!" The speech was so popular it crashed the Senate video server. It was later printed in a small book.
EARLY CAMPAIGN ACTION
Tad Devine, a longtime Democratic strategist who worked on Sanders' campaigns in the 1990s, has signed on as an adviser. The senator has been traveling the country in recent months, especially to the early caucus and primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, drawing big and enthusiastic crowds as he speaks about wealth inequality and the need to get serious about climate change. Even so, he's considered a longshot in a nomination contest dominated by Hillary Rodham Clinton.