(CN) – Former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke said Thursday his presidential campaign has hired Jeff Berman, a top delegate strategist for President Barack Obama who also helped Hillary Clinton secure the Democratic nomination in 2016, as a senior adviser.
Berman is the second top Obama veteran to join O’Rourke’s presidential campaign after Jen O’Malley Dillon signed on as campaign manager in March.
As Obama’s 2008 national delegate director, Berman was instrumental in helping to secure the necessary delegates that led to his historic primary win in what many considered a major political upset. Berman went on to serve as a senior consultant to Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, helping her to clinch the Democratic nomination.
“We’re excited that Jeff Berman has joined our team,” O’Rourke said in a statement on Thursday, noting his “expertise and proven success in navigating the primary process”.
At least half a dozen Democrats joined the crowded nomination race for president after O’Rourke announced his run in March. Since then, the former congressman’s polling numbers have taken a hit – he’s dropped to about 5% nationally, according to the latest Morning Consult survey – and his fundraising pace has cooled.
O’Rourke also abruptly lost two strategists earlier this year who worked on his bid to unseat U.S. Senator Ted Cruz in last year’s midterm election, Becky Bond and Zack Malitz.
But O’Rourke’s most recent hire suggests the Texas Democrat is shifting toward a more disciplined campaign that can battle through a protracted nomination fight in a field that has now topped 22 candidates.
O’Malley Dillon, O’Rourke’s campaign manager, said Berman “was one of the first people I reached out to when I came on board because delegate strategy is so critical to our overall strategy.”
“Jeff and I were both struck by Beto’s unifying leadership, the energy he inspires at the grassroots level, and his persistent belief that you can campaign to be a president for all Americans,” she said. “That’s exactly what voters are searching for.”