Senator Bernie Sanders continues to build out his Iowa Caucus team, one that will likely end up as one of the largest of the 2020 field. The campaign tells Starting Line that they have hired Michael Fasullo to serve as their Iowa field director and Tony Anthony as the deputy caucus director.
It’s a second round in the Iowa Caucus for Anthony, who filled the same role in Sanders’ 2016 Iowa team. In the time since, he ran DC Attorney General Karl Racine’s reelection race and managed Paul Pelletier’s congressional run in Virginia’s 10th District.
Fasullo also has some Iowa organizing experience on his resume, coming off of Cathy Glasson’s gubernatorial campaign here in 2018. Glasson’s former campaign manager, Misty Rebik, is Sanders’ new state director. Fasullo previously organized nursing home and hospital workers for SEIU, and ran Carlos Ramirez-Rosa’s Chicago city council race, as well as a Pennsylvania state house race that flipped a red district.
The two new hires continue a trend for Sanders of building a team with deep experience in organizing progressive communities for left-leaning campaigns. His Iowa operation pulls heavily from three major sources: his 2016 team, the Glasson campaign, and the progressive Iowa issue organization Citizens for Community Improvement.
As previously announced, Pete D’Alessandro has returned as a senior adviser; Evan Burger, who ran Sanders’ Iowa advance planning and worked at CCI, is the state caucus director; Jess Mazour, a former CCI organizer, is the political director. CCI endorsed Glasson in the 2018 primary, and their political arm helped organize for her. Glasson ended up with a second-place 21% finish to the eventual nominee Fred Hubbell.
Fasullo and Anthony will have their hands full with reactivating the extensive Sanders volunteer base. By far the biggest advantage that Sanders begins his Iowa run this time around is the massive volunteer infrastructure that remains from the 2016 cycle.
Other candidates will certainly build up strong volunteer networks over time, it will just take a while as many Iowa activists will take longer to decide on their favorite with such a large field. Sanders already has a base eager to get back to work, as evidenced by Sanders’ big small dollar success right out of the gate and the dozens of local volunteers already manning his initial Iowa trips.
While at his rally in Des Moines two weeks ago, Sanders mentioned they already had over 6,000 volunteers in Iowa signed up. They likely recruited even more at the event, where a sophisticated digital sign-in operation with tablets took in more attendees’ information.
With a sustainable online revenue stream, the Sanders campaign should be able to construct the largest Iowa Caucus field team if they so choose. They shouldn’t have any difficulty filling their field offices with volunteers as soon as they get them set up.
What they do with that organization is the next question. Sanders could probably win the Iowa Caucus with around the same 25% that he’s garnering in the latest Des Moines Register poll thanks to the fractured field. But they could also try to turn out even more young voters and people new to the process to boost Sanders’ caucus numbers, or focus in on winning over more of the regular caucus-going party crowd. Of course, his campaign certainly has the time and infrastructure to do both this year.
by Pat Rynard
Photo by Julie Fleming