At one time, Marlon Marshall was believed to be on the short list of possible Clinton campaign managers. Eventually, that job went to Robby Mook. That does not mean that Marshall is the odd man out. Mook and Marshall are practically connected at the hip. Many consider Marshall Mook’s right hand man. Known as “the Reverend” in Democratic circles for instilling zeal in his operatives, he plays alongside Mook’s “deacon” moniker to form what is known as the Mook Mafia.
There are two aspects to Marshall’s career and style that land him an entry in this series: the Mook Mafia and his association with the Democratic consultancy firm, 270 Strategies. Regarding the Mook Mafia, this is a loose association of political operatives headed by Mook and Marshall. ABC News published private e-mails between the two leaked by a disgruntled operative in an apparent attempt to sabotage the chances of either man having a major role in a Clinton campaign. Besides playfully referring to themselves by their “deacon” and “reverend” names, the e-mails were also laced with profanity, often against Republicans, and illustrated the aggressive stance of these men, especially Marshall. In the 2014 midterms, in response to anticipated losses, Marshall fired off an e-mail to supporters with this opening: “F U Republicans.” In another e-mail, he encouraged supporters to “smite Republicans Mafia style.” When Marshall was assigned to Chicago with another group, it was mentioned that the Mook Mafia was like the real Mafia- spreading into new territories.
At the very least, this illustrates a kind of immaturity and infantile behavior. But, the problem is that these operatives are key players in Clinton’s campaign and form yet another bridge to the Obama White House. In 2008, Marshall headed Clinton’s field operations in Nevada and California. Although losing out on the ultimate prize, Marshall found a job in the Obama White House heading the Office of Public Outreach which was designed solely for selling Obamacare to the public.
Prior to the failed Clinton 2008 effort, Marshall cut his presidential campaign teeth in 2004 with the Howard Dean campaign. It was Dean who devised the 50-state strategy which he pushed not only as a candidate, but also as head of the DNC. It is the strategy being pushed by Clinton this time around. And prior to Clinton’s announcement in April, it was both Mook and Marshall who were dispatched to Iowa to lay the groundwork three months previous to the official announcement.
Marshall is also an original member of 270 Strategies, a Democratic consultancy firm, founded by Mitch Stewart (previously profiled) and Jeremy Bird. Based in Washington DC and Chicago, this was how half the leadership of the Mook mafia ended up in the Windy City. This firm is definitively linked to five campaigns. The campaigns of [mc_name name=’Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’B001288′ ] in New Jersey and state attorney general Anthony Williams in Pennsylvania were easy ones- both won election handily with Williams running unopposed. However, the congressional campaign of Ro Khanna, a former Obama administration official, against Mike Honda in California ended in defeat. The other huge defeat was that of Wendy Davis in Texas. It was 270 Strategies which was behind the Turn Texas Blue effort.
The fifth campaign where they were clearly associated with was that of Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, a very close Clinton associate. If we look at the performance of this group, it is really not that impressive. Booker and Williams were easy while their efforts with Khanna and Davis were miserable failures. As for McAuliffe, it was a close race that could have gone another way had not there been a third party candidate stealing valuable votes from Ken Cuccinelli.
One other aspect of Marshall’s career is that while employed by the White House (he stepped down in January 2015 to rejoin 270 Strategies) he was involved in the Charlie Crist senatorial effort in Florida. Meanwhile, Bird ran afoul of campaign finance laws when it was revealed he had donated to the Khanna campaign. That 2015 resignation by Marshall indicated that he would play some role in a Clinton campaign. It is also believed that Marshall is behind Clinton’s grassroots fundraising efforts.
Bird was also, through 270 Strategies, dispatched by the Obama administration to Israel in an effort to organize opposition to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reelection efforts. Although those efforts failed, it illustrates a huge hypocrisy when it comes to Obama. While he incorrectly characterized the Citizens United decision as having the potential for foreign governments to influence American elections, in this instance the American government was actively organizing opposition to the reelection of a foreign leader.
Some claim that 270 Strategies is a scam and one that has drawn the ire of some Democratic operatives. In exchange for $5,000, applicants get 5 days of intensive training in Chicago in organizing field operations. For that $5,000, they are then assigned to a campaign of their choosing somewhere in the country- as an unpaid intern for five weeks. The lure of the program is getting “in” on the ground floor of a campaign. It is like those “work at home” scams one sees on late night television.
Given the winning record (one legitimate victory), perhaps it is a good omen for the eventual GOP candidate that Marlon Marshall and Jeremy Bird are on the Clinton team.