Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign on Friday announced the opening of five new field offices in Pennsylvania, including one in West Philadelphia. But the campaign quickly warned they may not stay open for long, given a shift to more digital organizing prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.
The campaign also announced it would dedicate 20 staffers to the state, who will remain even if the offices are short-lived to coordinate digital and virtual campaign efforts.
The investment follows a string of primary losses for Sanders, whose pathway to the Democratic nomination has significantly narrowed. But it suggests the Vermont senator doesn’t plan to drop out of the race any time soon. Pennsylvania’s primary is April 28.
"Pennsylvania voters have the power to move this movement forward, and we’re fighting for every vote over the next six weeks,” said Brooke Adams, Pennsylvania state coordinator for Sanders.
Adams was formerly Sanders’ Iowa field director, leading him to a strong showing there early in the race. She will now coordinate the campaign’s efforts in the state during the global pandemic.
The Sanders campaign announced it would open an office on South 52nd Street, the former location of Elizabeth Warren’s field office in the city before she dropped out of the race. The campaign also announced it would open offices in Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Scranton, and Allentown. But none of the offices will hold previously scheduled events to mark their openings out of concern about the coronavirus. And the campaign said the use of the physical offices in the coming weeks is in flux, given that all staff have been told to work from home.
The Sanders campaign, along with former Vice President Joe Biden’s, announced Thursday that it would suspend all door knocking and large public events.
In 2016, Sanders beat Hillary Clinton in 30 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties (Clinton won the primary) and sparked progressive movements across the state, which exist today. But in primaries this year, Sanders has struggled to hold onto working class white voters in more rural areas that he won four years ago.
After a devastating loss in Michigan on Tuesday, Sanders said Wednesday that he plans to stay in the race and to push Biden on issues like health care and criminal justice reform when the two debate on Sunday.
He also acknowledged he’s likely trailing too far behind to win enough delegates to secure the nomination before the Democratic convention this summer.