Unemployment rises... among Bernie Sanders' campaign staffers

The economy may be experiencing a steady, if tepid recovery, but there are still layoffs taking place. I don’t just mean the ones at Lockheed Martin here, but rather inside the campaign organization of Bernie Sanders. With most of the states having already voted, Sanders’ team is shedding workers this week and they number in the hundreds. (CNN)

Bernie Sanders’ campaign is laying off more than 200 workers, campaign manager Jeff Weaver said Wednesday.

The campaign is downsizing from its current 550-member team to between 325 to 350 workers, said Weaver, who added that at one point the Sanders’ staff numbered more than 1,000…

“It will be hundreds of staff members,” Sanders told the Times. “We have had a very large staff, which was designed to deal with 50 states in this country; 40 of the states are now behind us. So we have had a great staff, great people.”

Given the overwhelmingly negative headlines Sanders is drawing after his dismal performance on Tuesday and the fact that he’s essentially been mathematically eliminated from the Democrats’ nomination barring a tidal wave of superdelegates changing sides, that headline probably doesn’t seem all that surprising. But it’s worth noting that this really isn’t all that unusual and it takes place even in some campaigns which are winning. Many of those staffers were hired specifically to work on the ground in states which have already voted and there’s simply no point in keeping them around unless it was to begin the long process of getting out the vote for November.

Campaigns don’t like to lay people off because it sends a negative message which the media always picks up on and disgruntled former workers can develop a nasty habit of telling tales out of school. If a winning campaign is so fat with cash that they can avoid it they’ll keep the staffers on the payroll, shift them around to upcoming primary states or just find some GOTV work for them to do. (There’s a lot of that going on in Clinton’s campaign at the moment.) But Sanders is running on finite financial resources at this point and seems determined to throw the kitchen sink at the remaining states so it’s just a reality of life on the campaign trail that some of the workers at the trailing end of the train would have to be let go.

With all that in mind I suppose this news brings us back to one of the remaining mysteries of the Democratic primary. I asked last week precisely what is is that Bernie Sanders wants. To be honest, I’m no closer to an answer to that question now than I was then, but whatever it is, he certainly doesn’t intend to go quietly into that good night. Bernie is running his campaign in an awfully capitalist mode right now for an avowed socialist, laying off workers when the “factory” no longer needs their output. He’s looking to meet a production deadline with the biggest budget possible. Unfair though it might be, this could wind up serving as a useful talking point for Hillary Clinton as she seeks to draw Bernie’s supporters into her camp.


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