Tucked away in a condo complex in Washington, D.C.’s quiet Glover Park neighborhood, three veteran political operatives tap away at laptops around a single conference table. Surrounded by campaign signs from liberal past clients like Edward Kennedy, the men pop in and out of conversation to answer phone calls, forward emails, and refuel on caffeine.
This is the headquarters of the Democratic insurgency.
Tad Devine, Julian Mulvey, and Mark Longabaugh—together Devine Mulvey Longabaugh—represent as clients not only Bernie Sanders, the avowed socialist presidential candidate taking on Hillary Clinton, but also two little-known, underdog Democratic Senate candidates running against party-approved favorites: Cincinnati Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld and former Chicago Urban League CEO Andrea Zopp.
All regulars on the Democratic campaign circuit, the three consultants insist they’re not trying to ruffle any feathers with their party. Rather, they’re trying to save it.
“Listen, I’m a Democrat. I want the Democrats to control the House and the Senate,” Devine said in an interview with National Journal. “But I’m also somebody who for a long time has felt that the decisions about who’s the strongest candidate … these are decisions that are best made by voters. If you let the insiders make decisions about candidates before anyone has even cast a vote, I think you run a great risk of the strongest candidate not being the nominee of your party.”