Sanders' African American Aides Blame Top Officials For Snubbing Voters - Black Enterprise

Sanders’ African American Aides Blame Top Officials For Snubbing Voters

Bernie Sanders
U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (Wikimedia Commons)

Bernie Sanders’ campaign had energy, positivity, and youth—then the primaries started. Since then, Joe Biden has taken a healthy lead toward the Democratic nomination. Now Sanders’ top aides and allies say the problem may have been a problematic chain of command.

According to a NewsOne report, Some of Sanders’ top aides and allies say losses in Mississippi, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia were predictable because of bad decisions made at the top.

“I knew that our campaign had not done the work it needed to do,” Donald Gilliard, the deputy state political director for South Carolina told The Washington Post.

Gilliard added that he felt the campaign’s strategy was “geared toward white progressives,” which left black voters behind.

Ivory Thigpen, the co-chair for Sanders in South Carolina, believes that it was Sander’s delivery that hurt him in the state.

“I think the distinguishing attitude for Sanders, that you didn’t see associated with Biden, was an angry white man,” Thigpen told The Post. “In the African American culture, nonverbal communication and body language is huge and I think being accessible would have made up for it.”

Others believe the biggest issue was a disconnect between local and national leadership. One of the most visible figures taking harsh criticism is Nina Turner, the national co-chair for the campaign.

Turner became one of the most prominent black allies in the campaign by traveling across the country, introducing Sanders at rallies and helping him shape the campaign’s African American voter outreach in states like South Carolina.

However, some in the campaign felt she was wrong for the job when it came to outreach in the state. “She didn’t know the state,” said Gilliard, who parted ways with the campaign after South Carolina’s Feb. 29 primary.

Other complaints included not advertising enough on local black radio and television stations, unseasoned strategies, and missed opportunities to bring Sanders in for face-to-face meet-ups with black leaders and voters in southern states.

Mal Hyman, a former congressional candidate in South Carolina, argued, “Inexperienced state leadership was very slow to respond and to take any risk or broaden our base or to push for some of the what we thought were common-sense suggestions.”

After being deadlocked in African American voter support, Sanders suffered defeats in the South to Joe Biden, who campaigned heavily in the southern states.

Sanders’ campaign tried its hardest to do damage control. Phillip Agnew, a prominent black activist and campaign surrogate, was brought in as a senior adviser. Additionally, Turner worked hard to gain the endorsement of Rev. Jesse Jackson, but it may have been too late.

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