Reggae songs singing of revolution, posters decrying the injustice toward the 99 percent, exposed brick walls and cubicles made from what appears to be reclaimed wood. That is right, Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has opened a campaign office on East Carson Street in the South Side.
Inside the Schwartz Market building, about 50 Sanders supporters gathered and eventually filled the space before Ryan Hughes, Sanders' Pennsylvania campaign organizer, rallied the troops.
"I think we are gonna have a very competitive race here in Pennsylvania. We are 50 percent through the primary, and we believe the latter 50 percent favors the senator," Hughes said to applause.
Hughes said he is optimistic about Sanders' chances running against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Keystone State, and particularly in Pittsburgh. He said Sanders really appeals to the working-lass roots of the Steel City. Sanders already has some political support here in the Pittsburgh area, including Braddock Mayor and U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman
, who has endorsed Sanders.
Hughes also pointed out Sanders' platform on social and racial injustice, including Sanders' call for a $15-an-hour minimum wage. When asked about affordable housing, Hughes said that Sanders would work with Congress to pass legislation to address that issue, including possible legislation on community land trusts. (Lawrenceville has started the city's first community land trust
, and Sanders created the country's first while mayor of Burlington, Vt., in the '80s.)
The event was a chance for volunteers to get to know each other, according to Hughes, and there were voting registration stations as well as literature about the Sanders campaign. Hughes also said that supporters should expect a lot of visits from Sanders closer to the New York state Democratic primary, held on April 19.