Think About The Staffers

Tonight, Pete Buttigieg has reportedly ended his campaign for the Democratic nomination for president of the United States.

And while I have thoughts about Buttigieg’s campaign and what campaigners, especially in the digital & field space, can learn from it, that’s not what I want to write about tonight.

Tonight, I want to draw your attention to the staff.

Each time a campaign shuts down, the media treats it as a singular story. “How will this affect the other candidates,” they’ll ask. “What will s/he do next?” The focus is always on the candidate and the campaign — as though they are the same.

The truth is more complicated. Behind every “candidate withdraws” story is another, less-often reported story about a mass-layoff.

Tonight, dozens (even hundreds) of dedicated staffers on Mayor Pete’s campaign found out they were being laid off. They experienced the gut-punch of failure, followed by the immediate and unrelenting imperative of unemployment. 

Photo: Pete Buttigieg Staff in South Bend, Indiana (June 3, 2019)
Photo: Pete Buttigieg Staff in South Bend, Indiana (June 3, 2019)

Every serious presidential campaign I’ve encountered has been staffed by earnest, hardworking, and capable individuals, and working on a presidential is like compressing years of experience into a few short months.

When their campaigns end mid-cycle, they’re faced with the prospect of finding a new job in a crowded job market with very few openings. I really feel for them. You should, too.

Again, in the wake of a withdrawal announcement, we understandably focus on the candidates. But tonight, think of the staffers, too.