Sanders Campaign Says It's Led by Women | Off Message

Bernie Sanders
Sanders Campaign Says It's Led by Women


Bernie Sanders supporters at a rally in Concord, N.H., in March 2019 - FILE: PAUL HEINTZ
  • File: Paul Heintz
  • Bernie Sanders supporters at a rally in Concord, N.H., in March 2019
The bros, it seems, are no longer in charge.

Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) presidential campaign said Tuesday that women now make up 70 percent of its national leadership team. It announced 15 new and newish hires for senior positions, including 10 women and at least four people of color.

The news, first reported by the women's lifestyle site Refinery29, appears aimed at addressing criticism that Sanders' 2016 campaign was too white, too male and too Vermonty. Senior adviser Jeff Weaver — a white, male Vermonter — had been promising for months that the 2020 campaign would be far more diverse. One of Sanders' first hires was campaign manager Faiz Shakir, who has been described as the first Muslim American to hold such a position on a major presidential campaign.

Among the women holding top jobs with Bernie 2020 are deputy campaign manager René Spellman, political director Analilia Mejia, deputy political director Sarah Badawi, national organizing director Claire Sandberg, senior policy adviser Heather Gautney and digital fundraising director Robin Curran.

The leaders of the campaign's press shop are also mostly women. They include communications director Arianna Jones, deputy communications director Sarah Ford, national press secretary Briahna Joy Gray and senior social media strategist Georgia Parke.

The communications team includes two prominent former journalists: Gray, who served as senior politics editor for The Intercept, and David Sirota, an investigative reporter for Capital & Main who used to work for Newsweek/International Business Times. Sirota, who was named senior communications adviser to and speechwriter for the campaign, previously worked for Sanders as his spokesperson in the 1990s.

At least three of the campaign's leaders served as top advisers to former U.S. Senate majority leader Harry Reid: Shakir, chief of staff Ari Rabin-Havt and policy director Josh Orton.

Late last week, Bernie 2020 announced that it would be the first major party presidential campaign in history to have a unionized workforce. It said that a majority of its bargaining unit employees had chosen the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400 to represent them.

“Bernie Sanders is the most pro-union candidate in the field, he’ll be the most pro-union president in the White House and we’re honored that his campaign will be the first to have a unionized workforce,” Shakir said in a written statement.

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