(CNN)A Democratic congressman says Sen. Bernie Sanders is not a Democrat -- and that he should therefore not be allowed to run to be the party's nominee for president.
Democratic lawmaker: 'Bernie Sanders is not a Democrat,' should run as an independent
Rep. Gregory Meeks made the comments Thursday following news that Sanders will sign a party pledge affirming that he will run for president as a Democrat in 2020 and, if victorious, serve as a Democrat -- highlighting a long-standing divide between the Vermont independent and the party establishment. Sanders caucuses with Senate Democrats.
Meeks told Poppy Harlow on "CNN Newsroom" that "we've asked (Sanders) on a continuous basis" to reconsider running as a Democrat when he is an independent.
"If, in fact, you want to be the Democratic nominee, you should be a Democrat," the New York Democrat said. "If you're not a Democrat, you should not run. He should run as an independent. He's not a Democrat. So to me, I would not allow a Republican to run as a Democrat or for the Democratic nomination."
Meeks said he wants the 2020 nominee to truly represent Democrats by being a registered member of the party.
"If (Sanders) wants to be a Democrat, he should register in the Democratic Party, and then you can talk about running and to be my representative," Meeks added. "I want a Democrat to be my representative as president of the United States and be my nominee."
Sanders announced his long-anticipated 2020 campaign and second shot at the presidency on Tuesday, raising nearly $6 million in his first 24 hours as a candidate. In an SSRS presidential poll earlier this month, Sanders ranked third among Democrats, with 30% saying they were very likely to support him, behind former Vice President Joe Biden with 44% and Sen. Kamala Harris with 32%.