Joe Biden campaign torn over use of Bloomberg-backed firm to boost youth vote

Staffers from presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s campaign are at odds over whether to utilize Mike Bloomberg-backed firm Hawkfish to carry out its digital operations, according to multiple reports.

Hawkfish was launched in 2019 during the billionaire former New York City mayor’s bid for the Democratic nomination and was behind the candidate’s multimillion dollar advertising blitz, but has since been offered to the Biden campaign for use in the general election.

One Democratic operative in touch with Biden’s team said the internal campaign fight had split the group generationally, with older officials more receptive to Hawkfish than younger, digitally native staffers who would prefer to hire a team internally, according to Politico.

Younger members of Biden’s team argue that the campaign would appear more nimble and generate more authentic content if their digital operations were handled in-house, with some saying that going with a Bloomberg-backed organization could alienate progressives considering getting on the Biden bandwagon.

Progressive darling Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), whose endorsement Biden is courting, has publicly slammed the idea of the 2020 Democrat using Hawkfish, calling the firm “shady” in a tweet earlier this month.

“This is a bad idea. A really bad one, on multiple levels – for starters, it threatens the integrity of Dem voter data & puts Nov prospects in hands of a shady firm w/ a failed track record,” the Democratic socialist wrote, “Plenty of orgs bid for contracts. I hope there is enough good sense to reject this one.”

Older members of Biden’s team, however, argue that Hawkfish being already formed and staffed would allow the campaign to revamp their digital operations immediately, rather than spending weeks or potentially months building an in-house team.

They also argue that the digital firm is well positioned financially with Bloomberg’s backing and boasts an impressive roster of tech talent from Silicon Valley.

Regardless of that disagreement, all on the Biden campaign agree that its digital operations need to be ramped up.

Biden digital director Rob Flaherty acknowledged as much to Bloomberg News.

“This month has given us a good opportunity to figure out where there are needs and where we need to fill in holes,” he said in an interview last week.

“We’re going to grow in time but for now we’re drinking from the fire hose but still punching way above weights.”

The problem is that the internal strife has caused a delay in taking any action.

Since the coronavirus shutdown last month, Biden’s campaign has not added any digital staffers, the campaign confirmed to Bloomberg.

As the ongoing pandemic and daily White House press briefings dominate the news cycle, Democrats are fretting that Biden is becoming irrelevant amid the crisis.

A spokesperson for the Biden campaign did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment.

A representative for Hawkfish could not immediately be reached by The Post.

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