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Bern notice: Sanders’s campaign guru outlines strategy for winning Brooklyn

Back to his roots: Bernie Sanders’s press guru Symone Sanders says the senator will campaign like a Brooklynite to win over voters in his home borough.
Community News Group / Lauren Gill

He’s taking it to the streets!

A week out from the April 19 New York Democratic primary, upstart presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vermont) is lagging behind rival Hillary Clinton in the polls, number of delegates, and support from the local political establishment — but the self-professed socialist’s press guru claims the campaign can still win the Battle of Brooklyn, and will spend the next seven days knocking on borough doors and holding small events to win over local voters face-to-face.

“We are going out and we are hitting the doors,” said Symone Sanders, who is no relation, at his Gowanus campaign office on Saturday. “We’re going old-school, guerrilla style politics and we’re trying to win this thing.”

Bernie Sanders has been stumping hard in the Borough of Kings and beyond over the past week, drawing big crowds in Coney Island, Greenpoint, and outside his boyhood home in Midwood, but the Brooklyn-born pol still faces an uphill battle against Clinton, who served as a New York senator for two terms and handily beat out President Obama here in 2008.

The latest Fox News poll has Clinton leading Sanders 53–37 percent with 9 percent of voters uncommitted across the state, and virtually every local elected Democratic leader backing her campaign. Clinton is also generally more popular with black and Latino voters, who make up a significant portion of the borough.

Symone Sanders said the local camp will ramp up its outreach efforts over the next week — campaign reps will hit Brooklyn beauty shops this weekend — and the septuagenarian senator — who has a strong following among Brooklyn’s young hipster cohort but whose socialist ideals don’t play so well with people his own age — will personally hold small events with seniors in the borough to talk about issues such as social security and housing.

One campaign volunteer said borough seniors are quick to support Clinton because of her recognizable last name, but she thinks they will be receptive to Sanders’s ideas once they have the opportunity to hear about them.

“Mostly they just don’t know much about who he is,” said Crown Heights resident Ana Santiago. “It’s a huge information gap and they’re like ‘Oh yeah, the Clintons, I know them.’ ”

And Symone Sanders says she thinks her boss’s background growing up in the borough as the son of middle-class Polish immigrants will also help give him credibility with local working families that his rival can’t offer.

“Sen. Sanders is speaking directly from the knowledge he has of his upbringing and I think that makes it authentic, that makes it real,” she said. “That’s the reason voters can connect with him.”

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill.

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