Bi­den cam­paign staff is 35% peo­ple of color and 53% fe­male, data shows

The Washington Post Sunday - - ELECTION 2020 - BY SEAN SUL­LI­VAN sean.sul­li­van@wash­post.com

Thirty-five per­cent of pre­sump­tive Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Joe Bi­den’s cam­paign op­er­a­tion are peo­ple of color, and just over half are women, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures re­leased Satur­day un­der pub­lic prod­ding, after months in which his cam­paign de­clined to make that in­for­ma­tion pub­lic.

At least 60 per­cent of the staff is white, a num­ber in line with the per­cent­age of the United States pop­u­la­tion iden­ti­fy­ing as such, ac­cord­ing to 2019 data from the U.S. Cen­sus Bureau. Five per­cent of the staff opted not to spec­ify a race.

When it comes to se­nior of­fi­cials — which the cam­paign said in­cludes non­staff “se­nior con­sul­tants who spend the ma­jor­ity of their time on the cam­paign” — 36 per­cent are peo­ple of color, and 58 per­cent are women.

Bi­den’s cam­paign pro­vided the data hours after he was pressed on his cam­paign’s di­ver­sity dur­ing a vir­tual pres­i­den­tial town hall hosted by Asian Pa­cific Is­lan­der Amer­i­can Vote. The Wash­ing­ton Post and other news out­lets had pre­vi­ously re­quested in­for­ma­tion on the cam­paign’s di­ver­sity, which it had re­fused to pro­vide.

The num­bers prompted tepid re­ac­tions from some Democrats.

“That’s not ter­ri­ble,” said Aimee Al­li­son, the founder of She the Peo­ple, a group that pro­motes women of color in pol­i­tics. But she added that it did not fully re­flect the party’s base.

“I’d love to see a staff that re­flects the base,” Al­li­son said. She added that the Bi­den cam­paign will be “more suc­cess­ful hav­ing a set of top ad­vis­ers who re­late to and can con­nect with the very com­mu­ni­ties they are de­pen­dent on to win.”

Also on Satur­day, Bi­den said he has al­ready pre­pared an im­mi­gra­tion bill, and he re­it­er­ated his pre­vi­ous prom­ise to send Congress leg­is­la­tion on his first day as pres­i­dent that would cre­ate a path to cit­i­zen­ship for un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants. Bi­den and his cam­paign have drawn crit­i­cism from some His­panic lead­ers and ac­tivists about his record and level of outreach to Latino com­mu­ni­ties.

“There are things that I had promised be­fore that I’d do on Day 1 that aren’t go­ing to go away,” Bi­den said at a vir­tual fundraiser. “We need to deal with im­mi­gra­tion. I al­ready have a bill writ­ten. I’m go­ing to send to the United States Congress on Day 1 a path to cit­i­zen­ship for those in fact who are un­doc­u­mented.”

The makeup of Bi­den’s team has come un­der in­ten­si­fy­ing scru­tiny as ques­tions of race have dom­i­nated the na­tional po­lit­i­cal con­ver­sa­tion, with protests against racism and po­lice vi­o­lence against African Amer­i­cans erupt­ing across the coun­try. Some sup­port­ers have in­di­cated con­cerns about the di­ver­sity of his team, whose most vis­i­ble lead­ers are white.

Bi­den re­cently added more peo­ple of color to his team, which, along with the in­clu­sion of con­sul­tants in its newly re­leased fig­ures, ap­peared to have in­creased his per­cent­age of non­white staff mem­bers. Con­sul­tants are not tra­di­tion­ally con­sid­ered staffers on cam­paigns.

The Trump cam­paign, when asked for its di­ver­sity data, said that 52 per­cent of all full-time staff mem­bers are women. It would not say what per­cent­age of the staff are peo­ple of color. Fiftysix per­cent of se­nior staffers are women, the cam­paign said, and 25 per­cent are peo­ple of color.

Se­nior staff means “se­nior lead­ers who meet reg­u­larly to make de­ci­sions. Peo­ple with au­thor­ity,” the cam­paign said in a state­ment.

The Repub­li­can and Demo­cratic coali­tions dif­fer in their racial makeup. A ma­jor­ity (53 per­cent) of white, non-His­panic vot­ers iden­tify with the Repub­li­can Party or lean Repub­li­can, ac­cord­ing to data from the Pew Re­search Cen­ter. Four in 10 Demo­cratic reg­is­tered vot­ers are now non­white, com­pared with just 17 per­cent of the GOP, the data shows.

When it comes to staffing, the Bi­den cam­paign is work­ing with a group called In­clusv, which seeks to en­sure that em­ploy­ees of color can be found at all lev­els of pol­i­tics. Al­ida Garcia, the founder of In­clusv, said it plans to pro­mote job op­por­tu­ni­ties to its mem­bers. The fig­ures re­leased Satur­day amounted to a “great first step,” she said, but they “in­di­cate there is a lot of room for growth.”

The names of Bi­den’s staff mem­bers were not in­cluded in the in­for­ma­tion re­leased Satur­day. Sy­mone Sanders, a cam­paign se­nior ad­viser, is his most vis­i­ble African Amer­i­can aide. Bi­den also has a large crew of sur­ro­gates of color, but they are not cam­paign staff mem­bers. The fig­ures re­leased by the cam­paign did not dis­tin­guish race beyond whether the of­fi­cials were white or of color.

The Bi­den cam­paign said its Asian Amer­i­can and Pa­cific Is­lan­der se­nior lead­ers in­clude its chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer, chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer, na­tional voter pro­tec­tion di­rec­tor, dig­i­tal chief of staff, di­rec­tor of dig­i­tal part­ner­ships and sur­ro­gates di­rec­tor.

The cam­paign said its def­i­ni­tion of se­nior staff “in­cludes de­part­ment heads, se­nior ad­vis­ers, deputy cam­paign man­agers, and se­nior con­sul­tants who spend the ma­jor­ity of their time on the cam­paign, and oth­ers.” It added in a state­ment that it is “still con­tin­u­ing the hir­ing process and ex­pects to con­tinue to add key lead­ers across the cam­paign.”

Hours be­fore the re­lease, PBS correspond­ent Amna Nawaz noted to Bi­den in the town hall that his cam­paign had not yet re­leased spe­cific in­for­ma­tion about the di­ver­sity of his staff.

“When will you re­lease that staff di­ver­sity data?” she asked.

Bi­den replied: “I’ll re­lease that staff di­ver­sity data to­day. When we get off this call, we’ ll call you.”

He added: “You know, the fact of the mat­ter is, we have a very di­verse staff. And we have a di­verse staff that goes across the board and high-level and se­nior po­si­tions. So I will make sure we re­lease it to you, and it does in­clude AAPI mem­bers as well as a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of African Amer­i­cans, sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of women and Lati­nos.”

Nawaz fol­lowed up by ask­ing whether Bi­den was talk­ing about “the se­nior-most mem­bers of your staff, not staff over­all — the peo­ple with agency who are at the de­ci­sion-mak­ing ta­ble. Is that cor­rect?” “That’s cor­rect,” Bi­den replied. Nawaz said she would take Bi­den up on his of­fer.

“My team has to be watch­ing this. When this is over, pick up the phone im­me­di­ately and call her, okay?” Bi­den added.

Bi­den also said that his ad­min­is­tra­tion would “look like Amer­ica.” He has pre­vi­ously promised to name a woman as vice pres­i­dent and a black woman as his first Supreme Court nom­i­nee. In re­cent weeks, he has been un­der in­creas­ing pres­sure to name a black woman as his run­ning mate as well.

“Look at my staff. I have the most di­verse staff of any­body run­ning. I’ve al­ways done that,” Bi­den told NPR in De­cem­ber. “The ad­min­is­tra­tion should look like the Amer­i­can pub­lic.”

MARK MAKELA/REUTERS

Joe Bi­den at a cam­paign stop in Lancaster, Pa., on Thurs­day. The Bi­den cam­paign re­leased di­ver­sity data Satur­day un­der pub­lic prod­ding.

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