House Democrats’ campaign arm is moving to boost diversity among its membership’s senior campaign staff, teaming up with a training program to place staffers at top posts on campaigns.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Blue Leadership Collaborative announced on Thursday that the two organizations would partner for the 2022 cycle. The goal of the program is to recruit and retain people of color, women and people who identify as queer as senior staff.
Justin Myers, the executive director of Blue Leadership Collaborative, said that the program would help ensure “cultural competency” among campaign managers, and build a pipeline to a more diverse set of party committee leaders down the road.
“In order to run effective campaigns, and to win, it’s our belief, and I think the belief in most of the Democratic Party, that you need to have managers that are culturally competent, that have the ability to speak to every part of the coalition,” said Myers.
Myers said the class of managers being hired at congressional campaigns were all part of a cohort that managed Virginia state legislative races earlier this year. A dozen members of that class will manage congressional campaigns, Myers said.
“I remember what it was like to try to even become a manager on the other side, and speaking to the DCCC,” he said. “And sometimes those buildings are hard to navigate. And more importantly, I think historically, we have just seen an inability to really support managers the way that they need.”
Details of the partnership were shared first with POLITICO.
Myers, a former DCCC regional political director, said that a pipeline for underrepresented senior party operatives doesn’t really exist. The long-term goal of the program is to not only help candidates get their first shot at managing federal races, but support them as they advance up the party leadership ladder down the road.
“These folks are going to be the next [executive directors] of the DCCC, maybe the DNC,” he said. “They’re going to run big Senate campaigns. I guarantee you, one amongst this group will run a presidential [campaign] one day.”
House Democrats’ campaign arm had much-publicized struggles with senior staff diversity during the 2020 election cycle. Members publicly said that the DCCC, which was then led by Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.), was in “complete chaos” and lacked diversity. There was ultimately a significant senior staff shakeup in the fall of 2019, including hiring a new executive director.
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), who is chairing the DCCC this cycle, drew similar warnings on diversity among staff at the beginning of his tenure, but there was no similar public revolt during the off year.
“Diversity is one of our party’s greatest strengths,” DCCC Executive Director Tim Persico said in a statement, “and this partnership with Blue Leadership Collaborative will help ensure Democrats’ deep bench of talented and diverse operatives are ready to jump on the campaign trail to be leaders in some of the most competitive races this cycle.”