United States Sen. and former Penn Law School professor Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) launched the first Pennsylvania office of her 2020 presidential campaign in West Philadelphia's Calder Park neighborhood on Jan. 9.
Warren is among the first 2020 presidential candidates to open a field office in Philadelphia. The office's proximity to Penn's campus has given political student groups, such as Penn for Warren, an opportunity to become more active in her campaign.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, who is also a former Penn Benjamin Franklin Presidential Professor of Practice, has his campaign headquarters in Philadelphia. U.S. Sen. and Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (D-V.T.) has an office in Bucks County, Pa. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has been endorsed by former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, opened a field office in Philadelphia in December.
“We're excited to have opened an office in West Philly to give a home to our grassroots movement for big, structural change," Warren’s senior strategist for Pennsylvania Anne Wakabayashi wrote in an emailed statement to The Daily Pennsylvanian. “We welcome anyone that wants to get more involved or find out more about our movement to come out and join us."
Wakabayashi is a former member of Philly for Warren, the former executive director of Emerge Pennsylvania – a group that recruits and trains Democratic women who want to run for office – and is the current Chair of the Pennsylvania Commission on LGBTQ Affairs.
Penn for Warren leader and College sophomore Abigail Clyde said the group was excited by Warren's new office.
"Penn for Warren believes that the office will help on the ground volunteers work to help Warren and Democrats at large win Philadelphia and Pennsylvania," she wrote in an emailed statement to the DP.
Penn for Warren Membership Director and third-year Chemistry graduate student Borna Saeednia attended the field office's opening. The opening exceeded turnout expectations with attendance of nearly 140 people, Saeednia said. Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and District Attorney Larry Krasner, who have both endorsed Warren, gave speeches at the event.
Saeednia said the Warren campaign feels Pennsylvania will play a key role in the next few months of the campaign.
"We want to lay the groundwork early on, recruit volunteers, and get people excited because we think the competition in Pennsylvania is going to be very close – both in the primary and general election as well."
Penn Political Science professor Matthew Levendusky believes the Democratic primary race will last throughout the spring as candidates slowly collect delegates.
“If that’s the case, then what happens in Philadelphia will be quite important, as this is a delegate-rich city,” he said.
Penn Democrats Communications Director and College first-year Emma Wennberg looks forward to the face-to-face opportunities Warren’s Philadelphia office brings to the region.
“I know that it’s really gratifying for people to actually get to meet other people on a campaign," she said. "So just like Penn students were excited to work for the Biden headquarters, I also imagine that you might see similar engagement at [Warren's] new Philly office.”
All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.