Elizabeth Warren is making a play for Washington, opening campaign offices and hiring paid staff before the state’s March 10 presidential primary.

Warren’s campaign has opened two offices in Seattle and hired eight senior aides, with a total of 30 paid staff in the state, according to the campaign, which was set to make a public announcement Thursday morning.

The push puts the Massachusetts senator’s state organization ahead of her rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination. Bernie Sanders also has named a Washington state director and retains a core of volunteer activists who backed him here during the 2016 election. A spokesman for the state Democratic Party said he was unaware of any other 2020 campaigns with offices or staff in the state.

Among Warren’s announced Washington hires are Democratic operatives with strong local ties.

Maria Leininger, Warren’s state director, formerly worked as political and district director for U.S. Rep. Kim Schrier, D-Sammamish, and is an adjunct professor teaching political science and law courses at Bellevue College and Seattle University.

Dylan Cate, the campaign’s deputy director, has worked for a decade in the labor movement and progressive politics, most recently as organizing director for the state Democratic Party. And Shelby Iseler, her organizing director, has worked for environmental groups and Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Seattle.


Leininger said in a statement that the campaign has seen “incredible enthusiasm” from volunteers “and we’re excited to bring on dozens of talented and diverse staff members to support the volunteer leaders who are powering our movement.”

Warren visited Seattle in August, drawing a crowd of 15,000 to a speech at Seattle Center, with her message of fighting a corrupt political system “that works great for the wealthy and the well-connected and is not working so well for everyone else.”

She’s reached the top tier of Democratic candidates, vying with Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden in national and early-state polling.

With the latest Democratic debate set for Thursday evening in Los Angeles, Warren’s campaign said it’s also hosting 16 debate watch parties across the state, including one at the College Inn Pub in Seattle’s University District.