Former Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday named veteran Democratic operative Jen O’Malley Dillon as his campaign manager, shifting gears as the presidential race begins to enter a new phase.
“She will be a tremendous asset to a campaign that is only growing and getting stronger as we prepare to take the fight to Donald Trump this fall,” Biden said in a statement announcing the move, which CBS News reported earlier Thursday.
O’Malley Dillon previously ran Beto O’Rourke’s presidential campaign. She will take over for campaign manager Greg Schultz and Anita Dunn, another veteran Democratic operative who’s been serving as de facto leader for several weeks amid the decline of the campaign’s fortunes after the Iowa and New Hampshire contests, and his comeback since the South Carolina primary.
The campaign said Schultz will remain with the campaign and focus on “organizational planning for the general election and continuing to bolster the campaign’s external outreach.”
One person familiar with the moves said the switch had been discussed “over the course of weeks” and was expected among the campaign’s top ranks.
“This is a very positive step, to appoint somebody with the broad perspectives that she brings of working within the party and in presidential election cycles,” the person added. “The campaign needs a decisionmaker — a single point of management. It didn’t have one. It was needed.”
O’Malley Dillon was deputy campaign manager for President Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign and served as executive director of the Democratic National Committee, responsible for day-to-day operations of the party apparatus. She’s also a veteran of multiple mayoral, congressional, Senate and presidential elections.
Other senior aides to Biden are expected to remain in top roles, including Kate Bedingfield, a deputy campaign manager focused on communications; Steve Ricchetti, a longtime consigliere for the former vice president; and his sister, Valerie Biden Owens, who’s been a top aide to all of his political campaigns.
News of O’Malley Dillon’s hiring came before Biden laid out his plan to fight the coronavirus outbreak on Thursday from his home base of Wilmington, Delaware, and as his team prepares to shift its focus to a general election matchup as it maintains a hefty lead in the delegate race over Senator Bernie Sanders.
A Biden campaign memo late Wednesday said that it expects to win at least 400 more delegates in primaries next Tuesday in Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio and maintain a lead over Sanders of at least 150 delegates.