Al Sharpton-Campaign Organization
After pursuing an exploratory effort throughout 2002, Rev. Al Sharpton filed papers establishing a presidential exploratory committee with the FEC on January 21, 2003.  Frank Watkins started as campaign manager of Sharpton Explore 2004 in mid-April 2003 and continued to September; on September 30, 2003 Sharpton named Charles Halloran to serve as his campaign manager.
Campaign Manager Charles Halloran
(Announced September 30, 2003; Sharpton brought Halloran on a month earlier to audit the business side of the campaign and ramp up the fundraising effort.)  Halloran, an attorney from Lexington KY who has lived in the Washington DC area since 1992, traveled with then Governor Bill Clinton in his 1992 presidential campaign.  He started his political work at age 19 as a traveling aide for then Vice President Walter Mondale.  He has also served as a fundraiser and political operative for various candidates and the Democratic National Committee at different times over the last 24 years.  Halloran has managed statewide and targeted races in Georgia, Kentucky, and New York, and most recently Bermuda.
Deputy Campaign Manager Michael Pitts
(December 2003)

D I S T R I C T   O F   C O L U M B I A  (January 13 primary)

DC Director Joe Ruffin

S O U T H   C A R O L I N A  (February 3 primary)

South Carolina State Director Roderick Scott
(announced Dec. 30, 2003)  A Louisiana native who has experience running statewide campaigns across the Southeastern U.S. and the Deep South.  In addition to serving as a Democratic staff member in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, Mr. Scott served as Louisiana Political Director for the Gore/Lieberman Campaign in 2000.

M I C H I G A N  (February 7 caucuses)
(office in Detroit)

N E W   Y O R K  (March 2 primary)

On November 10, 2003 the campaign announced the formation of a "national network of business, community and political leaders designed to enhance Sharpton's local fundraising, generate volunteer support, coordinate local political events, and interact with communities of interest on behalf of his campaign."

U.S. Congressman Ed Towns (D-NY)
U.S. Congressman Jose Serrano (D-NY)
Earl Graves Jr., President of Earl G. Graves Publishing Co.
Cathy Hughes, Founder and Chairperson of Radio One
Bill Campbell, former Mayor of Atlanta
Percy Sutton, Chairman, Inner City Broadcasting
Sharpe James, Mayor of Newark, NJ

December 2003 overhaul.

Campaign Manager Frank E. Watkins
(Started as campaign manager on April 15, 2003, resigned Sept 2003).  Watkins is taking a leave of absence from his position as press secretary/communications director in Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.'s office, where he has worked for almost seven years.  Previously he worked for Jackson, Jr.'s father, Rev. Jesse L. Jackson for 27 years.  Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Watkins attended Anderson College in Indiana, 1961-65 and Anderson School of Divinity, 1965-68.  (He chose Anderson because Dodgers' pitcher Carl Erskine was a coach there.  Watkins played semi-pro ball for seven years).  At Anderson, Watkins was active in the civil rights and anti-war movements.  He first met Jackson in 1967 when looking at various forms of urban ministry.  After candidating in five churches, Watkins started at Operation Breadbasket on May 1, 1969.  He was brought on the payroll at PUSH in December 1971, and worked in a variety of positions there, succeeding Bill Cherry as press secretary and communications director in 1975.  Watkins tried unsuccessfully to get Jackson to run for president in 1980.  He serve as press secretary on Jackson's 1984 presidential campaign and as national political director on Jackson's 1988 campaign.
Question: What is the secret to a successful campaign?
"Having a message that has broad-based appeal and driving that message home every day." -Frank Watkins
Finances-Courtnie Sewejei

S O U T H   C A R O L I N A

State Coordinator Kevin Gray
(since January 2003, resigned Sept. 2003)  Community organizer since 1968.  In 2002 Gray ran for governor as a write-in candidate supported by the United Citizens Party.  National Steering Committee Member - Nader for President 2000.  Southern political director for Sen. Tom Harkin's 1992 presidential campaign.  South Carolina coordinator for Jesse Jackson's 1988 presidential campaign.  Gray was a founding member of the National Rainbow Coalition in 1986.  He is a past four-term president of the South Carolina affiliate of the ACLU.  Gray has written extensively on race and politics.

Campaign Chairman Roberto Ramirez
Roberto Ramirez, a Puerto Rican American, served as chair of the Bronx County Democrats from 1994 to early 2002.  He heads the MirRam Group consulting firm.  Ramirez ran for NY Assembly unsuccessfully in 1986, was elected to the Assembly in 1990, and ran unsuccessfully for New York City public advocate in 1993.  Ramirez moved to New York City from Puerto Rico at age 19.  He is a graduate of Bronx Community College and NYU law school. 

Exploratory Effort Marked by Considerable Disorganization
Rev. Al Sharpton announced in an August 20, 2001 press conference that he would establish by November 2001 a presidential exploratory committee headed by Harvard professor Cornel West.1   The exploratory committee, under the direction of Harvard professors Cornel West (moved to Yale effective April 2002) and Charles Ogletree and Lewis Myers, Jr., a Chicago attorney who worked on Jesse Jackson's campaign and for Rainbow/PUSH, met periodically.2  "We want to be methodical," Myers said in a January 2002 interview.  Myers spoke of a coalition "that is begging for some leadership."  "We're not talking about a racial campaign," he said.

In February 2002, Rev. Sharpton embarked on a "Getting to Know You Tour."  In New Hampshire on February 17, he met and greeted the congregation at New England Pentecostal Ministry in Pelham, spoke at Keene State College, (crossed over to White River Junction, Vermont to visit a community action program), and preached at Rollins Chapel at Dartmouth College in Hanover the next morning he did a breakfast with fellows and interns at Hanover Inn.  In Des Moines, Iowa on February 26, he breakfasted with local clergy at the Creative Visions Center, had lunch with officials and community leaders at Corinthian Baptist Church, spoke at Des Moines Area Community College, and preached at Union Baptist Church.3  However, the "tour" petered out although Sharpton continued his travels.

Sharpton's press secretary Rachel Noerdlinger stated on March 1, 2002, "We're in the very early stages.  We're researching issues, familiarizing people with the idea, choosing operatives from different regions for mobilization efforts and crucially, assembling a finance committee to ascertain how this will happen."  By mid-June 2002 it had established a finance committee with Don Coleman, CEO of GlobalHue, and Pierre Sutton of Inner City Broadcasting serving as co-convenors, it claimed "operatives in 30 states," and it had launched a web site.  On September 13, 2002 the Sharpton Explore 2004 Committee held its first fundraiser.

On January 21, 2003 Sharpton filed papers establishing a presidential exploratory committee with the FEC.  Bronx Democrat Roberto Ramirez was chairman of Sharpton Explore 2004.

1. At his August 18 press conference Sharpton said he would do a September tour of 10 key cities around the country, and an early October freedom bus tour in New Hampshire, however the September 11 attacks slowed the pace of these activities.  On December 1, 2001 at the "State of the Black World Conference" in Atlanta, Rev. Sharpton continued to express clear interest in a presidential run, speaking at a forum on "The Sharpton for President Campaign 2004: Which Way Black America?"

2. Early meetings: New York on January 29, 2002 and Philadelphia on February 23, 2002.

3. Rev. Sharpton stated through his spokeswoman, "I felt that I was well-received by residents in both New Hampshire and Iowa and intend to spend more time in each area as I continue my 'Getting to Know you Tour' over the next few months.  In New Hampshire, the students at Dartmouth and Keene State College asked fair and intelligent questions about my positions ranging from education, the economy, campaign finance and election reform, to energy and the environment, civil rights, AIDS, and national health regulations and standards.  In Iowa, community members in Des Moines inquired about my push for election reform and how I would make this a central part of my platform in 2004, along with pertinent questions about my positions on welfare reform, housing, and agriculture as it relates to the state of Iowa.  The diversity of people I visited with in each state expressed strong emotion about the need for progressive people-based policy in America and the need for fairer standards for all citizens.  A common denominator on both trips was the aspect of listening."

Sharpton Explore 2004 website
remained static for many months.

Copyright © 2003  Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action.