Democrats are looking at a crowded 2020 candidate field much like the Republican field in 2016. As the Betos and Kamalas and Spartacuses are weighing running, a group of former Bernie staffers have started a PAC to support a potential Bernie Sanders run.


Sanders has yet to declare candidacy for the 2020 race neither has he committed to running, but Rich Pelletier, one of the principal organizers, told Rolling Stone that Organizing for Bernie has two goals.

“One, we want to show the support is there. The second is to begin to do the organizing that is going to need to happen for him to hit the ground running, by the time he announces — if he announces,” said Pelletier.

From Rolling Stone:

The identity of the organizers is part of what makes this campaign interesting. Organizing For Bernie is led by a cross-section of senior campaigners from Sanders’ 2016 run. Pelletier, for instance, was the deputy campaign manager for Sanders last election cycle.

The Colorado-based group includes Dulce Saenz, the former Sanders campaign director for Colorado and Washington state, as well as former Colorado Caucus Director Mandy Nunes-Hennessey and Spencer Carnes, who began as the leader of the Buffs for Bernie group at the University of Colorado in 2016.

The news comes on the heels of a three-day retreat for progressive leaders called “The Gathering” at the Sanders Institute in Burlington, Vermont. Hosted by Jane Sanders and attended by the likes of Dr. Cornel West, Nina Turner and Bernie Sanders himself, “The Gathering” felt a lot like a kitchen-cabinet strategy session, both for the progressive movement generally, and for a potential Sanders run. The weekend included the unveiling of a new plan by University of Massachusetts economist Robert Pollin to cost out a Medicare-for-All proposal.

Of course, the question of whether or not the 77-year-old Sanders would run for president again was a major topic of discussion between panels.

Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ 2016 campaign manager, was a notable conference attendee. Asked about the draft campaign led by his former deputy, Weaver acknowledged he was aware of it.

“I’ve been contacted by a number of people who are wondering, how do we demonstrate to Bernie that he’s got the support of people across the country?” Weaver says. “Without talking about any particular conversation I’ve had — because I’ve had many — I’ve tried to be encouraging to people and to give whatever advice I can that will help them move forward.”

If this last weekend is an indicator, it sure looks like Sanders will run. According to CNBC, the Sanders “brain trust” met in Vermont over the weekend. Sanders’ 2016 campaign Manager Jeff Weaver spoke to the Associated Press:

A final decision has not been made, but those closest to the 77-year-old self-described democratic socialist suggest that neither age nor interest from a glut of progressive presidential prospects would dissuade him from undertaking a second shot at the presidency. And as Sanders’ brain trust gathered for a retreat in Vermont over the weekend, some spoke openly about a 2020 White House bid as if it was almost a foregone conclusion.

“This time, he starts off as a front-runner, or one of the front-runners,” Sanders’ 2016 campaign manager Jeff Weaver told The Associated Press, highlighting the senator’s proven ability to generate massive fundraising through small-dollar donations and his ready-made network of staff and volunteers.

Weaver added: “It’ll be a much bigger campaign if he runs again, in terms of the size of the operation.”

Amid the enthusiasm — and there was plenty in Burlington as the Sanders Institute convened his celebrity supporters, former campaign staff and progressive policy leaders — there were also signs of cracks in Sanders’ political base. His loyalists are sizing up a prospective 2020 Democratic field likely to feature a collection of ambitious liberal leaders — and not the establishment-minded Hillary Clinton.

Instead, a new generation of outspoken Democrats such as Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and California Sen. Kamala Harris are expected to seek the Democratic nomination. All three have embraced Sanders’ call for “Medicare for All” and a $15 minimum wage, among other policy priorities he helped bring into the Democratic mainstream in the Trump era.

Sanders may have been the “outsider” (which is still amazing considering his decades of government employment) in 2016, but he’ll be hard-pressed to differentiate himself in a field and within a party that has lurched leftward these past few years.