Primary Preview: Can anyone beat Bernie Sanders?

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Campaign 2018: Bernie Sanders is seeking his third term in the Senate. Does anyone stand a chance against the popular incumbent?

Middlebury College Political Scientist Matt Dickinson said, "I don't see signs of fatigue yet."

Bernie Sanders fatigue. Dickinson says the U.S. Senate race is Sanders' to lose.

"I would be surprised in the U.S. Senate race if anyone but Bernie Sanders emerges victorious," Dickinson said.

Sanders has one Democratic challenger on the primary ballot but few know who Folasade Adeluola is.

"She's essentially a carpetbagger," Dickinson said.

Adeluola moved to Vermont from Indiana specifically to run against Sanders.

"Her name recognition is such that she wasn't even included in recent polls," Dickinson noted.

The four Republicans running in the primary-- Roque "Rocky" De La Fuente, H. Brooke Paige, Jasdeep Pannu and Lawrence Zupan-- are virtual unknowns, too. But Dickinson points to potential points of attack from the GOP. One, Sanders' wife, Jane Sanders, and her financial handlings at the now-defunct Burlington College. And that the senator might run for president again.

"If I'm a Republican, I say this guy is going to run for president, electing a stand-in, and will leave Vermont behind as he did when he ran in 2016 and missed numerous votes," Dickinson said.

But he says it's highly unlikely the GOP will spend any money trying to unseat Sanders. The party will likely take out ads in closer U.S. contests.

"The state has been trending blue and he is in the vanguard of that trend and he helped push it forward," Dickinson said.

Right now, the challenger getting some attention is an independent who isn't on the primary ballot but plans to file the necessary paperwork to get on the general election ballot. Brad Peacock is a 38-year old vegetable farmer from Shaftsbury who supports Sanders and his ideas but says it's time for new blood a younger person to carry the torch than the 76-year old independent. Peacock says Sanders' political role has moved to the national stage and Vermonters deserve a full-time senator.

But anyone going up against Sanders, who's seeking his third term, will be a long shot, according to Dickinson, and history is likely to repeat itself. Sanders won overwhelmingly in the last election.

"Over 70 percent of the vote six years ago-- his profile has only risen and there hasn't been a lot of mud thrown at him that has actually stuck," Dickinson said.

Vermont Democratic Party Chair Terje Anderson released a statement in regards to the U.S. Senate race, saying: "The Vermont Democratic Party has a strong, productive and close relationship with Senator Sanders. We are proud of his role as a leader in the US Senate Democratic Caucus, and as a powerful voice for Democratic values, issues and candidates. In 2012 and 2006 he ran for the Senate with the endorsement of the Vermont Democratic Party after winning the Democratic primary. We anticipate the same will happen this year and look forward to campaigning together with Bernie to elect candidates who support Democratic values at all levels of government."

WCAX News reached out to the Vermont Republican Party for comment, too. We had not yet heard back when this story was published.