Andrew Yang, the entrepreneur turned successful Democratic presidential candidate, has built his political appeal, in large part, on his unconventionality and newness to the political scene. Which is why it struck an odd note for many to see his campaign bring on board one of the more establishment Democratic ad consultancies in the business deep into his current run.
On Wednesday, Politico reported that the Yang campaign was hiring the firm Devine, Mulvey, and Longabaugh to help with media consulting. The firm has, for years, worked with a slate of Democratic candidates on federal and state races. But it’s best known for its work on Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign, on which Tad Devine—one of the firm’s namesakes—served as a senior adviser.
Both Devine and the firm were set to reprise their roles in 2020. But they ended up not joining the Sanders election effort after what was described as strategic difference. In reality, the decision was largely driven by the belief within Sanders’ orbit that they could save money—and do a better job coordinating messages—if they simply produced their ads in house.
“I’ve seen reporting that suggests they quit,” Sanders’ campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, told The Daily Beast. “They did not quit; Senator Sanders never brought them on.”
Shakir said that the firm also approached the campaign a second time to see if there was a role to play but that the senator declined their offer. Instead, the campaign followed through on its plan to do in-house production, with the latest of their spots coming this week after Sanders’ mega-rally in New York City.
That Devine, Mulvey, and Longabaugh moved on makes sense, considering how large the Democratic field remains and how much work there is to grab from those still in it. But why the firm went with Yang—who has no real institutional ties to the Democratic Party—is less clear. A request for comment from both the campaign and Devine were not returned.
“We wish them the best, and appreciate the good work they did on the last campaign,” Shakir said. “Our in-house team is producing such great work. I’m sure the consulting class is a little worried about this approach being successful.”