Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders has revamped his New Hampshire state operations, replacing state director Joe Caiazzo with Shannon Jackson, who led Sanders’ Senate re-election campaign in Vermont last year.
Jackson previously served as the Sanders campaign’s Northeast regional director and has worked with Sanders for years, including in his Senate office in Burlington, Vermont. Jackson said in a statement he was “honored to be taking on a more direct role in this critically important state.”
The New Hampshire shake-up comes as the Vermont senator’s campaign is fighting to maintain support in the first-in-the-nation primary, which is in five months. Sanders won the state primary by 22 percent in 2016 before going on to lose the Democratic nomination to Hillary Clinton. Several state delegates who voted for Sanders in 2016 are now eyeing Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) as a better option to beat President Trump.
Current polls in New Hampshire show a tight race, with Sanders at 22 percent, former Vice President Joe Biden at 21.5 percent, and Warren at 19.3 percent, according to the Real Clear Politics average of surveys.
Some of Sanders’ most loyal supporters began to have doubts surrounding his ability to perform as well as he did in 2016. Upon hearing the news of the change, 50 members from his state steering committee openly applauded on Sunday afternoon when they heard that Caiazzo had been reassigned to state director of Massachusetts, Politico reports, citing people who were in attendance.
New Hampshire isn’t the only state to see a new director for the Sanders campaign—state directors or lead staff have recently been added in Maine, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Minnesota, an aide confirmed to Politico. Additionally, some senior staff have been asked to move to early caucus and primary states.
On its top leadership, the Sanders campaign also promoted both Ari Rabin-Havt, the chief of staff, and Arianna Jones, the communications director, to the position of deputy campaign manager, and is also bringing on a new senior communications adviser, according to The New York Times.
New Hampshire Democrats told The New York Times that Caiazzo always appeared to be an odd fit for the Sanders campaign, as Caiazzo is moderate, while Sanders is a self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist running on a platform to turn the establishment on its head.
Sanders’ campaign said the moves in New Hampshire and beyond are to expand his operations and organize supporters in the Northeast as they look toward Super Tuesday, when several other New England states, including Warren’s home state of Massachusetts, will vote.
“The campaign has a strong volunteer operation in that state, great staff, and the turnout of events with Bernie has been particularly strong as of late as well,” Faiz Shakir, Sanders’ campaign manager, told Politico. “Now we’re trying to think around the corner and see where the next challenges are going to lay and put ourselves in a position to secure the nomination, and we’re making staff moves and hires in accordance with that.”