Former top advisers to Senator Bernie Sanders are teaming up on a surprising new venture to try to rally progressive support for former vice president Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign: a super PAC.
Jeff Weaver, who served as Sanders’s campaign manager in 2016 and as a top adviser in 2020, is leading the effort, which will focus on mobilizing the base of Sanders supporters — young people, liberals Latinos, and “blue-collar progressives” — for Biden.
Other top Sanders officials from the 2020 race who will be involved include: Chuck Rocha, a senior adviser who focused on Latino outreach; Tim Tagaris, who oversaw digital strategy and fund-raising; and Shelli Jackson, a California strategist for the campaign. Mark Longabaugh, who worked for Sanders in 2016 but left the 2020 campaign early on, is also part of the new group.
Sanders has railed for years against super PACs, which can accept unlimited donations, emphasizing his reliance on millions of small contributions from supporters online to fuel his two presidential bids.
“The senator is not supportive of super PACs. He is not supportive of this super PAC,” Weaver said in an interview Tuesday. “He certainly would prefer we had not done it through a super PAC. Each of us has to make our own decision about how to move forward.”
Weaver said that, given the short time frame until the general election, this was the most efficient way for the Sanders movement to “lock in some of the gains progressives have made” by electing Biden and ousting President Trump.
Sanders, through a spokesman, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the new group.
The group, whose paperwork was filed with the Federal Election Commission last week, will be called Future To Believe In PAC, a play on Sanders’s 2016 slogan.
Weaver can be a polarizing figure in the Sanders orbit and the reaction from some former Sanders aides and supporters was negative. “Don’t give them a dime. Pass it on,” wrote the popular @PeopleforBernie Twitter account run by Sanders supporters.
The new effort will not have access to Sanders’s vaunted e-mail list, Weaver said.
Longabaugh was a top architect of the 2016 Sanders campaign but parted ways one week into the 2020 effort, issuing a public statement with two fellow consultants, Tad Devine and Julian Mulvey, that they were leaving “because we believe that Senator Sanders deserves to have media consultants who share his creative vision for the campaign.” The media firm eventually worked for Andrew Yang’s campaign.
This is not the first time that an independent entity sprung out after Sanders ended a presidential campaign.
In 2016, veterans of Sanders’s campaign formed a different outside group, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit called Our Revolution. Weaver was initially installed as president, a posting that caused an exodus of other alumni who had clashed with Weaver during that race. Weaver left the group in 2017, at which point Nina Turner, another top Sanders adviser and surrogate, took over.
Our Revolution continued to support Sanders through 2020. With the new group, both halves of the title of Sanders’s post-campaign book in 2016, “Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In,” are now the names of entities that sprung out of his movement.
The new effort is actually the second super PAC formed by a former top adviser to the Sanders campaign. Rocha recently also created Nuestro PAC, a super PAC dedicated to turning out Latino voters in the fall, using the same model and methods that the Sanders campaign used to win over such voters in the primaries.