Three upstart progressives running for the Hayward City Council have caught the eye of the most famous progressive in U.S. politics.

Former Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders announced the endorsement of Lacei Amodei, Elisha Crader, and Nestor Castillo on Thursday, the three-candidate slate of Hayward progressives running for four at-large seats on the Hayward City Council this November.

Sanders made the surprising selections as part of a list of 18 progressive candidates running for state and local offices across the state.

The Sanders endorsement is a major coup for the Challenger Slate comprised of Amodei, Crader, and highly unusual for a politician of his stature to wade in the waters of a Hayward City Council race.

Sen. Bernie Sanders was the runner-up for the Democratic Party presidential nomination this year.

But Sanders’ attention comes after Hayward politics, historically dominated by an establishment politicians backed by the local Chamber of Commerce, was transformed two years ago by the emergence of progressive Councilmember Aisha Wahab.

During the same period Amodei and Crader have followed Wahab’s lead on a number of fronts. Both have strongly advocated for renters’ protections, increasing the minimum wage in Hayward, and police accountability. All issues that Sanders has backed over the years.

Other East Bay candidates receiving Sanders’ backing on Thursday include Berkeley District 2 Councilmember Cheryl Davila, AC Transit Board of Directors candidate Jovanka Beckles, and Oakland City Council District 3 candidate Carroll Fife.