South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg has made one of his biggest hires to date. Jess O’Connell, former Democratic National Committee CEO, is now a senior adviser to his presidential campaign.
The veteran democratic operative confirmed her new role with the campaign in a series of tweets Thursday: “I agree with Pete — this isn’t about winning an election, this is about winning an era … I am especially proud of the women running for president. I support Pete, but I am rooting for us all.”
The hire comes after Buttigieg, once a little known mayor from Indiana, raised nearly $25 million in the second quarter, the most of any 2020 democratic presidential candidate, and has ramped up his staffing to look like a top-funded campaign.
O’Connell, who was also the executive director of Emily’s List and had a senior role in Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, will lead the Buttigieg campaign’s early state strategy and advise the campaign on political and electoral strategy.
Buttigieg also added another senior staffer this week, Sonal Shah, as national policy director, Chris Meagher, the campaing’s press secretary, confirmed to CNN.
Shah is the executive director of the Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation at Georgetown University and was a former deputy assistant to the President under Barack Obama. She also held posts at Google, the US Department of Treasury and Center for American Progress. Shah’s hiring comes after Buttigieg released policy proposals on National Service and his Douglass Plan, aimed at African Americans. Buttigieg plans to roll out additional policy proposals in the coming weeks, according to the campaign.
Buttigieg started exploring his presidential bid in January with four employees. Months after that soft launch, the campaign has 250 people on staff, according to an aide, and will continue to hire into the third quarter with investments in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina and California, according to the aide.
While Buttigieg’s operation and campaign bank account have grown significantly over the last month, his standing in the polls has not.
Buttigieg, after polling as high as 10% in late April in a Quinnipiac University poll, has consistently polled nationally between 4% and 7% in more recent polling, including a CNN poll released earlier this month that found the mayor at 4% nationally.
Buttigieg has largely dismissed the lack of growth in the polls, telling reporters that he believes his fundraising haul proves he has a message that, once voters hear from him, will resonate. He also told CNN that he does not believe he is a candidate that only appeals to people able to donate to campaigns.
CNN’s Dan Merica contributed to this report.