Advance Notice: Briefs

Study: Sanders has least diverse staff of senators running for president

By: - July 15, 2019 11:26 am

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) at Macomb Community College in Warren, Michigan | Michael Gerstein

People of color account for 41% of Democratic voters, but make up a lower percentage of the U.S. Senate staff for two of the seven Democratic presidential candidates, according to a Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies study released last week.

The analysis compares the percentage of Black and Latino staffers in U.S. Senate offices with the percentage of Democratic voters who identify as Black or Latino.

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) keynotes the MDP Women’s Caucus luncheon, May 18, 2019 | Andrew Roth

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) fared the worst, with 28% of his staff composed of people of color, according to the analysis by the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit African-American think tank. He was followed by U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) at 38%. The report notes both have made strides in hiring more staffers of color since 2018.

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) had the most diverse staff of any presidential candidate and any Democratic senator overall, the study found. She’s followed by U.S. Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.).

Joint Center Diversity and Inclusion Senior Fellow LaShonda Brenson completed the analysis. The highlights reveal:

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris at San Francisco Pride, June 30, 2019 | Angela Demas

  • African Americans account for 21% of registered Democratic voters, but a lower percentage of the staff in the U.S. Senate personal offices of Klobuchar, Gillibrand, Bennet and Sanders.
  • Warren’s personal office staff demographics outpaced the proportion of national Democratic voters who are Black, as well as people of color, but had less than the average proportion for Latino staffers.
  • Latinos account for 12% of registered Democratic voters but a lower percentage of the staff in the U.S. senate personal offices of Warren, Sanders and Klobuchar.

Many Democratic presidential candidates will appear at the national NAACP convention forum on July 24 in Detroit, as well as at the next debated on July 30 and 31 at the Fox Theatre.

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Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.