WASHINGTON — Zac Petkanas thought he was done with politics after the 2016 election. He was ready to move into the private sector — or maybe chase a dream job in the art world.
Then his boss, Hillary Clinton, lost.
Within 48 hours — infuriated by the Cabinet prospects being floated by Donald Trump’s transition team, like Wisconsin sheriff David Clarke for homeland security secretary — Petkanas had decided he couldn’t change careers yet.
“Tuesday was the election. Wednesday I was sleepless and tired and very sad,” he said. “And Thursday I got extremely angry.”
Petkanas quickly transitioned from Clinton’s director of rapid response — a role that made him the campaign’s chief Trump hit man — to director of the Democratic National Committee’s war room, where he’d lead the party’s resistance to Trump’s actions.
“The signals that were coming out of the White House lit a fire under a lot of people,” Petkanas said. “He re-engaged a whole slew of people, talented people, driven people, to stay in the fight.”
In the three months since her defeat, Clinton has mostly faded from the political stage. She has tweeted support for the Women’s March last month and criticized Trump’s moves to limit immigration.
But many of her former staffers — especially mid-level Brooklyn veterans — are now on the front lines of the left’s anti-Trump resistance.
Many say they’re apoplectic over revelations that top Trump advisers were in constant contact with Russians known to US intelligence during the campaign.
Some ex-Clinton staffers have moved into Democratic organizations that are shifting their focus to opposing Trump — such as Clinton press secretary Brian Fallon, now a senior adviser to Priorities USA; policy adviser Corey Ciorciari, now helming the Center for American Progress war room’s policy and research efforts; and Cristobal Alex, Clinton’s national deputy director of voter outreach and mobilization, who is now the president of the Latino Victory Fund.
Others are racing to fill the holes in the Democratic Party exposed by November’s results, in an effort to help activists newly energized by Trump’s victory strike back in upcoming elections, at congressional town halls and more.
Clinton veterans’ new projects
One example many Clinton veterans point to: Run for Something, which launched on Trump’s Inauguration Day with the goal of recruiting, training and funding first-time candidates for office.
It was co-founded by Amanda Litman, the Clinton campaign’s email director, who said in the immediate aftermath of the election, she was looking for a new challenge after several years in online fundraising.
After the election, though, she said she and other Clinton staffers felt like they had failed.
“Once we got over the shock and the sadness and the heavy drinking — catching up on sleep, cleaning my apartment for the first time in six months — a bunch of us were talking about different things,” she said. “Do you stay in politics because it’s incredibly important? Do you leave because you’re so cynical and jaded and feel like the work we’ve been doing doesn’t matter?”Read More...
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