Top Bernie Sanders consultants part ways with 2020 campaign

Top media consultants to Sen. Bernie Sanders announced their departure from his 2020 presidential campaign on Tuesday, in a major shakeup only one week after Sanders formally embarked on his second bid for the White House.

In a statement provided to CNN, Tad Devine, Julian Mulvey and Mark Longabaugh announced that they are leaving Sanders’ 2020 organization. Despite rumors of a rift between Sanders and Devine, the group had produced a video message heralding Sanders’ second bid for the Democratic nomination.

DML’s formal departure from Sanders’ inner circle is the latest in a series of notable changes to the leadership group that helped guide the Vermont independent to a remarkable, but ultimately losing, run in 2016.

The three men played a key role in his 2016 bid, frequently traveling with Sanders on the campaign trail and creating a number of memorable and acclaimed ads, including a January 2016 video entitled “America,” a minute-long clip featuring the Simon and Garfunkel song.

Former campaign manager Jeff Weaver, who remains onboard as a senior adviser, has been replaced by Faiz Shakir, a former aide Democratic leaders Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. Former Reid aides Ari Rabin-Havt and Josh Orton, who worked on Russ Feingold’s 2016 Senate campaign in Wisconsin, are also expected to play big roles on Sanders campaign.

News of the split with DML was first reported by the New York Times. Longabaugh told CNN that the group has not spoken to any other campaigns.

“We are leaving because we believe that Sen. Sanders deserves to have media consultants who share his creative vision for the campaign,” they said in a statement. The firm created 275 TV, radio, and digital ads for the 2016 Sanders campaign.

Shakir told CNN in a statement, “The campaign appreciates all the good work DML has done and wishes them well.”

One source familiar with the decision described a misalignment between Sanders and the trio, saying they “did not have a meeting of the minds on the vision and strategy for the campaign” this time around. DML made the decision last week, according to the source.

Another source said that the move was not necessarily unexpected as Sanders has made it clear that his 2020 campaign will be different than his 2016. This person described the departure of DML as more of a natural evolution of things and didn’t view it in a negative way.

The decision leaves Sanders in a position to have to hire new consultants during an already competitive Democratic primary race. Detroit-based “Means of Production,” the filmmaking duo behind Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s own super-viral primary ad from 2018, have been rumored as potential hires.