The political revolution has let Tim Canova down. Bernie Sanders hasn’t shown up to campaign for his chosen primary challenger to Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the former chair of the Democratic National Committee. Heading into a Florida Democratic primary on Tuesday, Canova is behind by double digits in recent polling and looks likely to lose the race.
But that’s only part of the story. Former staffers at Our Revolution, the organization created to act as a successor to the Sanders campaign, believe the group did not do as much as it should have to help Canova in his bid to defeat the veteran Florida congresswoman.
A number of staffers who resigned from Our Revolution in protest over how it has been run say the organization’s 501(c)(4) status made it impossible to coordinate strategy with the Canova campaign, leaving the campaign worse off as a result. At least some departing staffers believe the organization should be set up under a different legal structure so that it can coordinate with candidates it endorses in the future and do more to help them win.
“I would absolutely say the prohibition on coordinating hurt the Canova campaign,” said Paul Schaffer, the former data and analytics director for Our Revolution. “We have an enormous core of dedicated volunteers. But when Our Revolution was set up as a 501(c)(4), that prevented us from mobilizing that big pool of Bernie supporters to work jointly with the campaign to get out the vote.”
Former Our Revolution staffers emphasize that they don’t fault Sanders for the way the organization has been managed. (Sanders has clarified that he will not be controlling or directing the organization.) Instead, many staffers who resigned blame Jeff Weaver, Sanders’s former campaign manager who was recently brought in to run Our Revolution, for the decision to operate the organization as a 501(c)(4).
The set-up appears to have caused organizational challenges and legal headaches. According to former volunteer engagement manager Ceci Hall, since Our Revolution wasn’t able to coordinate voter contact efforts with the campaign, a task that involved directing volunteers to call voters and encourage them to support the Canova campaign and get out to vote, some voters ended up receiving calls from both the campaign and Our Revolution.
I still think it’s entirely possible for Sanders’s supporters to be an effectual force within the party. But it seems enormously unlikely that Our Revolution will amount to anything, and I would continue to suggest that the Mark Penn of the left be kept far away from anything that looks like it might work.