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As Bernie Sanders gears up for a likely second run at the Democratic presidential nomination, the Vermont senator finds himself facing a much higher level of scrutiny than he ever endured in 2016.

And while the 77-year-old Democratic socialist popularized Medicare-for-all and other big-government programs since espoused by a host of 2020 hopefuls, he is now one of many like-minded candidates – no longer the lone torch-bearer for the progressive cause. Perhaps the most ideologically aligned of the lot, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, got the jump on the field by launching her presidential exploratory committee last week and then promptly barnstorming Iowa.

But making matters worse, Sanders has been forced to grapple with lingering fallout from a sexual harassment controversy tied to his 2016 campaign. The allegations of harassment and sexism in Sanders’ 2016 campaign – which emerged in reports last week by The New York Times and Politico – are raising new questions even among some of Sanders’ strongest supporters.

The problem has to be dealt with and rectified,” Burt Cohen, a former New Hampshire state senator who served as a Sanders delegate to the 2016 Democratic convention, told Fox News.

Another top supporter from New Hampshire – who asked to remain anonymous to speak more freely – said that if the controversy “hasn’t been quelled, it’s a concern for me.”

And the home-state Barre Montpelier Times Argus newspaper just published a blistering editorial that began, “Bernie Sanders should not run for president. In fact, we beg him not to.”

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