Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has chosen Roger Lau, a jack-of-all trades political operative who helped steer her to victory in two US Senate elections, to manage her 2020 campaign for the White House, CNN has learned.
Lau, 41, has held several senior roles with the Massachusetts Democrat, including campaign manager for her re-election race in 2018, as well as state director and political director. Dan Geldon, Warren’s longtime aide and former Senate chief of staff, will serve as chief of staff on the presidential campaign.
Warren’s decision to put Lau and Geldon in two such prominent roles reflect her reliance on a fiercely loyal and small circle of aides she has come to trust over the years. The appointment is also a historic one: Lau appears to be the first Asian-American campaign manager for a major American presidential candidate – particularly notable in an election that already features an unprecedentedly diverse field of candidates.
“Roger and I have been together since my first days as a candidate for office, and it’s always been a fight from the heart. It’s what binds us together,” Warren said in a statement provided to CNN. “Roger believes in building a grassroots operation, and that’s exactly what we’ll do.”
Lau could not be reached for comment.
Colleagues describe Lau as a steady and loyal aide who has been a constant presence next to Warren since 2011. He is expected to oversee every aspect of the 2020 campaign, including organization, mobilization and staffing.
Lau was born in New York to immigrant parents who fled China in the 1970s. His family settled in Queens, and Lau attended University of Massachusetts at Amherst. In 1998, he landed an internship with then-Sen. John Kerry at his Springfield office, and would ultimately work for Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign.
Kerry praised him in a statement to CNN as a “head-down, get the job done leader.”
“He under-promises and over-delivers. He’s meticulous about details. There’s no guess-work and there’s no spin,” Kerry said. “One of the most important duties of a campaign manager is to anticipate, prevent, and fix problems – hopefully before the candidate knows they exist – and Roger is a fixer to the core and immune to pressure.”
Lau has worked for numerous other Massachusetts Democrats, including former Reps. Niki Tsongas and Richard Neal.
“Roger has been in the trenches of national politics for decades. He has deftly steered local and national candidates to success while making sure to mentor and open doors for the next generation of staffers and activists,” said Boston City Councilwoman Michelle Wu, the first Asian-American woman elected to the council and Warren’s former student. “He’s been a trailblazer for AAPIs in politics here, and my heart is bursting with pride and emotion to see him break this national barrier.”
Starting with Warren’s exploratory presidential campaign announcement on New Year’s Eve in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Lau has been by the senator’s side over the past six weeks, traveling with her to Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Puerto Rico.