Biden Picks Virginia State Director as Battleground Hiring Lags

Joe Biden’s campaign has hired a longtime Virginia political operative to lead its efforts there as the Democratic presidential nominee begins building out his teams in battleground states.

Chris Bolling, a former executive director of the Democratic Party of Virginia, will be Biden’s state director, former Governor Terry McAuliffe said Friday night at the state party’s virtual convention, according to a video obtained by Bloomberg News.

Bolling is “beginning to lay all the groundwork of what we need to actually do here in Virginia, not only on the fund-raising piece but putting the political structures in place,” McAuliffe said.

Bolling had been running Common Good, McAuliffe’s political action committee. McAuliffe is weighing a second bid for governor after serving a single term that ended in January 2018.

Bolling also worked briefly as a senior political adviser for Michael Bloomberg’s presidential campaign. Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News. The Biden campaign didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday.

Biden’s campaign has moved more slowly to hire its leaders in battlegrounds than some Democrats in those states had hoped, Bloomberg News reported Friday.

Leadership Ranks

Bolling is just the second Biden state director whose name has been made public, following the announcement Friday of Jessica Mejia as Arizona state director and Andrew Piatt as a senior adviser there. The Biden campaign hasn’t said who will be leading its operations in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and other key states. The campaign has promised to fill out its leadership ranks in the states by July 1, though.

State directors oversee the day-to-day running of the campaign and are key to executing its broader strategy. Even though Biden is leading President Donald Trump in national polls, vacancies at that level could make organizing difficult in competitive states.

Some Democrats said that while the delay isn’t catastrophic, they’re concerned by the campaign’s protracted hiring process and its effect on building a robust operation heading into the general election.

On Friday, McAuliffe lamented the inability to have people campaigning out in the field due to the coronavirus pandemic. But earlier this month, he said Democrats shouldn’t be concerned about Biden’s low profile in public.

“People say all the time, ‘Oh, we got to get the vice president out of the basement,’” McAuliffe told a local Democratic Party group, Fox News first reported. “He’s fine in the basement. Two people see him a day: his two body people. That’s it. Let Trump keep doing what Trump’s doing.”

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