Bernie Sanders is bringing on Jessica Vanden Berg, a well-known veteran of Iowa and national campaigns, to his caucus team. She will serve as a senior advisor for their Iowa operation.
As the AP reported last month, Vanden Berg was approached by Joe Biden’s team for a top role in his eventual campaign in Iowa. Biden is expected to announce his presidential bid this week or next. There is a quickly-shrinking pool of experienced Iowa talent that could steer a major caucus campaign.
Vanden Berg ran Christie Vilsack’s 2012 congressional campaign, worked for former Congressman Leonard Boswell, and served as the deputy director for the Iowa Democratic Party. Outside of Iowa, she ran Jim Webb’s successful 2006 campaign for Senate and served as Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s chief of staff. She also helped start up Emerge Iowa, a group that encourages and supports women who run for office.
“We couldn’t be happier to have Jessica joining our growing team here in Iowa. She has a long track record of working for successful statewide campaigns that have brought real progressive change to Iowa and across the country,” Misty Rebik, Sanders’ state director, said in a press release. “I have no doubt her expertise and vision will play an important role in driving us to victory in next year’s caucus.”
Vanden Berg joins another experienced Iowa operative, Pete D’Alessandro, in advising Sanders in the state. Her hiring is also noteworthy in that she comes from outside the progressive campaign universe that Sanders initially hired from for Iowa. Nearly all of Sanders’ caucus team came from either Sanders’ 2016 campaign, the 2018 campaign of Cathy Glasson, or the progressive advocacy group CCI.
“I have worked for and supported great candidates that knew how to deliver a winning message to Iowans, and I believe Bernie Sanders has what it takes to win,” said Vanden Berg. “Fighting for Medicare for All, raising the minimum wage and a Green New Deal is important not just for Democrats but for all Iowans, especially in a state where our healthcare is in crisis and wages have stagnated. As a mother of a two-year-old, for me, this election is about her. She deserves to live in a country where all of our policies are focused on giving her the best possible future. There is nothing more important and Bernie Sanders is fighting for every Iowan, and I’m ready to get to work.”
Although Sanders’ Iowa team got started a little later this year than several other candidates who announced earlier, they’ve quickly built up a sizable operation. By Starting Line’s count, this is their 12th publicly-announced staffer in a leadership role for Iowa, and they’re working on building out a field team. Given their significant fundraising advantage, it’s quite possible that Sanders will end up with the largest team in the state. Elizabeth Warren currently has around 50 people on her Iowa team overall.
Sanders has been to Iowa for two multi-day trips since announcing his candidacy in February, already drawing most of the largest crowds of the cycle.
by Pat Rynard