The campaign has made hires to manage outreach to Indigenous, disabled, faith-based, ethnic and military communities. They’ve also employed people who will focus on engaging young and rural voters.
The campaign is building out a team of more than 25 staffers to execute the campaign’s strategy of using identity as an entryway to connect with voters on policy.
“We want to make sure we have people on the campaign that come from these different respective communities, so that our strategies for outreach are fully informed by the lived experience of those voters,” said Ashley Allison, coalitions director for the Biden campaign and an alum of Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign and administration.
The Biden effort is modeled after the coalitions operation of the 2012 Obama campaign called “Operation Vote.” According to campaign officials, the effort aims to perform “aggressive outreach across every constituency,” and reach voters in groups that are often overlooked.
“Learning from the lessons of a successful campaign in 2012, the things that worked and what didn’t work is how you get stronger as a campaign to ultimately win in November,” Allison said.
Among the hires are Clara Pratte, who served as the chief of staff for Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye. Pratte will serve as the tribal engagement director.
The Biden campaign has tapped Molly Doris-Pierce, a campaign alum of Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, to head up outreach for people with disabilities. Josh Dickson, a Democratic National Committee and Obama 2012 campaign alum, will head up engagement to faith-motivated voters, while Aaron Keyak, former communications director for New York Rep. Jerry Nadler, will handle outreach to Jewish communities.
Despite the flurry of recent hires, some top Democratic strategists and officials believe these hires are taking place late in the election season.
“I can imagine that it is difficult to hire at the beginning of the pandemic, like late March, early April, mid April, but I feel like by May [the Biden campaign] should have had a digital organizing strategy,” a top Democratic strategist told ABC News, adding, “The components can be managed virtually and they should have been able to figure out that virtual shift and pivot, along with the strategy to be able to then hire people.”
When asked if the recent hires were too late, the source added, “It’s July now. It’s been four months.”
In late June the Biden campaign announced that 35% of its full-time members are people of color and 36% of its senior staff are people of color. Two of those senior hires were Julie Chávez Rodríguez, the granddaughter of the late labor and civil rights leader César Chávez, who also served in the Obama White House, as a senior adviser to strengthen outreach to Latinos. She’s the highest-ranking Latina on the campaign. Karine Jean-Pierre, a former Obama administration official and the chief public affairs officer for MoveOn, a progressive public policy group, has also been brought on board as a senior adviser.
The campaign has been on a hiring spree in recent days, also adding Jacky Chang, who was hired to serve as the campaign’s chief technology officer.
The Biden campaign says it’s leaning on virtual and digital outreach amid the pandemic with a focus on finding creative ways to link identity to the issues in his platform.
“People care not just about voting for their identity, but the issues they care about,” Allison said. “We’re making sure that the programs we are building are allowing people to discuss the issues they care about and vote for the candidate that is going to move their policy platform ahead.”