Two alums of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) 2016 presidential campaign have launched a consulting firm to help progressive candidates win elections and to stick a thumb in the eye of the Democratic Party establishment.
MVMT Communications is the brainchild of Karthik Ganapathy, who previously served as battleground states communications director for Sanders, and Mike Casca, the rapid response director on Sanders’ campaign.
“The sort of calcification around the Democratic Party’s agenda has been driven a lot by the consultant class,” Casca, who went on to serve as communications director for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, told The Daily Beast. “We have a party that is driven by a core of strategists that run a lot of their business on corporate clients and it affects everyone’s thinking.”
The launch of MVMT Communications comes as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has said it will not grant contracts to consultants who work with candidates who are running primary challenges against sitting incumbents. Though Ganapathy and Casca didn’t say they created their firm in response to that decision, it is clear that their impetus for doing so was, in part, to try to rally in support of those candidates challenging entrenched incumbents.
“If you agree with Cheri Bustos’ vision for the Democratic Party, you’re probably not going to want to hire us,” Ganapathy said referring to the chairwoman of the DCCC. “We’re not your people.”
Already, Justice Democrats, an insurgent group seeking out and supporting candidates running against Democratic members of Congress, has created a “DCCC Blacklist” website pointing to those consultants and firms now on the outs with the DCCC. MVMT Communications is the latest indication that the party’s infrastructure is growing increasingly fragmented over the importance of incumbency.
Ganapathy and Casca, who have racked up years of experience in progressive politics, said they were inspired by the enormous uptick in energy for candidates promising structural change to the Democratic Party. And as part of their mission, the two are pledging to make some similar reforms themselves: forswearing work for big corporations, right-wing governments in foreign countries, or “middle-of-the-road candidates.”
Ultimately, the goal is to provide a launching pad for those candidates who have either been shut out of access to seasoned consultants or those who have moderated their platforms in order to not offend party establishment types.
“We’re primarying the consultant class because we think the consultant class has played a huge role in the Democratic Party’s failures of the past few decades,” Ganapathy said. “And that’s on a whole range of things. That’s electorally, that’s on an issues side.”
“Say you’re a teacher running for office somewhere in this country, you actually can have consultants that won’t fleece you, that are actually aligned with your values,” he continued. “That aren’t going to try to change your mind on specific issues and that’ll help you get your message out without compromising your message or your ideological integrity.”
Ganapathy and Casca plan to keep the firm small for now and are in the early stages of talking to potential clients, but wouldn’t reveal names in advance. With a small-scale focus, Ganapathy and Casca said that they are only going to take on clients they truly believe in, which means imposing some kind of litmus tests.
“Taking fossil fuel money, not being for Medicare for All, not being for $15 minimum wage. We’ll have to take it by situation,” Casca said. “But the truth is we’re going to have a really high bar for the kind of folks we want to push. We are not afraid of the longshot, two percent, isn’t going to ever win, no one knows who they are. We’re not in this to rack up tons and tons of notches in our belt. We’re in this to make change.”