By Paul Steinhauser
Published March 19, 2019
One month after Sen. Bernie Sanders launched his second straight bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, his campaign is announcing major staffing decisions.
The independent senator from Vermont on Tuesday formally announced a slate of national staffers. The move comes just four days after Sanders highlighted that his presidential campaign would be the first in history to unionize. And the announcements come three weeks after a major shakeup at the campaign, with several top advisers from Sanders’ 2016 White House bid heading for the exits.
Among the announcements on Tuesday was that Faiz Shakir is serving as campaign manager. Shakir – who’s been on the job managing the campaign for a couple of weeks – joined Sanders from the ACLU, where he served as national political director.
Shakir succeeds Jeff Weaver, who managed the senator’s 2016 White House bid. It was previously announced that Weaver would serve as senior adviser on the 2020 campaign.
Rene Spellman will serve as deputy campaign manager. Spellman – who joined Sanders from Creative Artists Agency (CAA) – is a veteran of Sanders 2016 run, where she worked as national director of traveling press and media logistics
Ari Rabin-Havt will serve as the campaign’s chief of staff, moving over from Sanders’ Senate office. He’s also a one-time senior adviser to former Vice President Al Gore and then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Veteran labor and grassroots organizer Analilia Mejia will serve as national political director, with Progressive Change Campaign Committee veteran Sarah Badawi serving as deputy political director.
Also being formally announced are six 2016 campaign veterans: Claire Sandberg as national organizing director, Heather Gautney as senior policy adviser, Arianna Jones as communications director, Sarah Ford as deputy communications director, Tim Tagaris as senior adviser, and Robin Curran as digital fundraising director.
Josh Orton – a senior adviser in Sanders’ Senate office – was named policy director. Briahna Gray – a former attorney, columnist and senior politics editor at The Intercept – will serve as national press secretary. David Sirota – an investigative journalist – will serve as communications adviser and speechwriter. And Georgia Parke – who also worked in Sanders’ Senate office – will serve as social media strategist.
Late last month, just days after Sanders launched his campaign, three of the top advisers who helped propel the senator's 2016 White House bid -- Tad Devine, Julian Mulvey and Mark Longabaugh – parted ways with the 2020 campaign.
Regardless of the shakeup, Sanders came out of the gate in strong position. He drew large crowds to his first two rallies in New York City and Chicago and along with former Vice President Joe Biden, who’s likely to announce his bid next month, is near the top of the public opinion polls.
The self-described democratic socialist also raised a whopping $5.9 million in his first 24 hours as a candidate. That was the largest fundraising haul by a 2020 Democratic presidential nomination candidate, until it was topped by former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas, who last week hauled in $6.1 million on his first day as a White House contender.