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Sanders revokes congressional endorsement for Young Turks founder Cenk Uygur

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is revoking his congressional endorsement for Young Turks founder Cenk Uygur to fill the House seat vacated by former Rep. Katie Hill (D-Calif.) as the media personality continues to come under fire for comments he’s made about women. 

“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, a top-tier candidate in the Democratic 2020 presidential primary, said in a statement. “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,” he added before tweeting out a similar statement.

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Sanders initially announced his endorsement for Uygur on Thursday, noting that he hosts a television program that supports a litany of progressive priorities, including implementing “Medicare for All,” Sanders’s signature health care proposal. Uygur also endorsed Sanders in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary and in his current White House bid.

Besides Sanders, Uygur had also won the endorsements of Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and former Ohio state senator Nina Turner, who is now co-chairwoman of Sanders’s presidential campaign.

Uygur said Friday that he appreciates the support from Sanders, Khanna and Turner, but will not be accepting any endorsements in his House campaign. 

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“Their stance took real courage in the face of the corporate media and Democratic establishment onslaught,” he said in a statement. “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. That’s why I have decided that I will not be accepting any endorsements.”

The announcements come as Uygur plays defense amid scrutiny over past derogatory remarks he made about women.

“Obviously, the genes of women are flawed,” he wrote in a 1999 blog post. “They are poorly designed creatures who do not want to have sex nearly as often as needed for the human race to get along peaceably and fruitfully.”

Uygur also another post outlining the “rules of dating,” including that there “must be orgasm by the fifth date.”

“First of all, I wrote that stuff 19 years ago; I deleted it 15 years ago,” Uygur said on CNN this month. “I deleted it not because I thought I’d get caught or someone would find it, I deleted it because I didn’t believe it anymore. This is not me. I was trying to be a stupid, politically-incorrect Republican. So I wrote these things I knew were offensive.”

Uygur also defended himself this week from remarks he made in a 2013 episode of his show in which he ranked women on a scale from one to 10 based on how likely men would be to perform oral sex on them, among other things. Uygur told The Los Angeles Times that he should not be criticized for having “frank conversations about sex.” 

Uygur is running against state Rep. Christy Smith to fill Hill’s seat. Smith, who has emerged as a frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, has won the support of several top California Democrats, including Gov. Gavin Newsom, Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris and Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

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