The secret to Bernie Sanders' astonishing success is his wife, Irish American Jane O’Meara Driscoll Sanders, according to The New York Times.

At 74, Sanders is the darling of the left, jumping into the race early and attracting huge crowds and massive financial support from small donors.

He leads Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire and a win there will keep him in the race for the long term.

He hates comparisons to Donald Trump, but he is the equivalent surprise packet in the small Democratic field.

The red-haired O’Meara, 65, is Sanders’ closest confidant and a long time political activist who is first among all others in his inner circle and much praised for her political judgment.

Among her causes over the years has been human rights in Northern Ireland, an issue her husband joined her on while in Burlington City Council.

“She has his ear like no one else in discussions at a very high level,” David Weinstein, the senator’s senior policy adviser told The New York Times

“She speaks for Bernie, and it’s not just because she’s his wife. It’s because she is his confidante.”

Last Sunday Andrea Mitchell of “Meet the Press” stated that Bill Clinton would campaign for his wife, Sanders responded, “We’re going to let my wife, Jane, out, and I think Hillary is going to be in real, real trouble.

A visit by a Times reporter to the Sanders residence in Vermont discovered Irish blessings (May the Road Rise Up to Meet You) hanging in the kitchen.

Jane O'Meara Driscoll was born to Irish Catholic parents and brought up in Flatbush in Brooklyn making her a fellow native of that borough in which Bernie was born. In fact, she grew up just 15 blocks from her future husband.

Her father suffered serious infection complications from a broken hip injury that saw him in and out of hospital running up huge bills over ten years. This was Jane’s introduction to the need for health care for all.

Her family's poverty was alleviated somewhat by the success of her brother Ben who learned horseback riding in Prospect Park and amazingly became a world class show jumper and a Hall of Fame Equestrian rider.

She married another Irish American, David Driscoll, her high school sweetheart, with whom she had three children. Sanders has a son from a previous relationship, also.

When that marriage broke up, she went north to Vermont, a place she had always been fascinated with (another similarity with Sanders). Soon, she met with her like-minded socialist friend as they both mixed in political circles, meeting for the first time on the night Sanders was elected mayor of Burlington, and they became a couple.

With what the Times called “an abundance of wavy red hair and conviction, O’Meara shared the mayor’s temperament” and was known for her fiery Irish outbursts.

She strongly berated city elected officials for not showing proper interest in a visiting nationalist politician from Belfast, Northern Ireland, saying, “Don’t you care that human rights are at stake here?”, according to The Burlington Free Press, who reported on the shouting match that Sanders soon joined in her defense. The couple married in 1988.

She would be the first Irish First Lady since Pat Nixon in the 1960s but would surely have much more to say than the usual holder of that office. While it still looks like a longshot, she says she is determined to never give up the fight for greater equality.

H/T: New York Times

Vice President Biden congratulates Sen. Bernie Sanders as Jane O’Meara Sanders looks on during a re-enactment of the swearing-in ceremony for his second term in the U.S. Senate.Public Domain / Wikicommons