In a historic first, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who announced his second presidential bid Feb. 20, has picked Pakistani American Faiz Shakir as his national campaign manager.
“In hiring Shakir, Sanders brings into the fold one of the Democratic Party’s better-traveled operatives — an official with limited campaign experience but with ties to the party’s think tank infrastructure, its Hill operations, and the larger progressive universe,” reported The Daily Beast.
Born to Pakistani American parents, Shakir is the first Pakistani American and the first Muslim American to head up a U.S. presidential campaign.
The veteran political operative, who has served in several roles within the Democratic party, rose to national prominence as the editor of the Web site ThinkProgress, which is associated with the Center for American Progress. Coincidentally, CAP is headed up by a prominent Indian American Democrat, Neera Tanden.
Shakir most recently served as the national political director with the American Civil Liberties Union, which has opposed President Donald Trump’s administration on several issues, including immigration. In a recent tweet, Shakir challenged Trump on his assertion that border crossing constituted a national emergency.
“Border crossing isn't a national emergency. Hurricane Katrina was. Imagine if the response to the actual emergency was to build a bunch of levees in New Orleans while the city was under water. Would that make sense? The Trump wall ‘solution’ tells you it's not an emergency,” Shakir tweeted.
Previously, Shakir served as senior advisor to now-retired Sen. Harry Reid, while the latter was the Senate Majority Leader. He has also worked with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California.
Shakir started out as a junior staff researcher for John Kerry’s campaign in 2004, Ozy.com reported. He was also vice president for communications at the Center for American Progress, The Hill reported.
Shakir is a graduate of Harvard and Georgetown University Law Center. He earned his bachelor’s degree in government at Harvard. He grew up in Florida and is a big fan of baseball which he played for four years at Harvard, as reported by heavy.com.
Anthony Romero, the ACLU's executive director, praised Shakir as a “transformational leader” whose work helped quadruple ACLU membership since Trump took office, as reported by The Daily Beast.
“While the ACLU does not endorse or oppose candidates for elected or appointed office, Faiz has picked his candidate for president," Romero said. "Senator Sanders is fortunate to have someone of Faiz Shakir’s talent, creativity and vision running his campaign for president.”
Shakir advised Sanders’ 2016 run, which earned him the animus of former CAP executive director John Podesta, who was then the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s campaign.