The Democratic primary in New Jersey's Senate special election will be the first to pit veterans of President Obama's 2012 campaign against more established Democrats -- matchups that will vault a new generation of Democratic strategists to the top rungs of their profession. Newark Mayor Cory Booker has signed up 270 Strategies, one of a growing number of consulting firms launched this year by alums of Obama's political operation.
270 Strategies is a grassroots organizing firm founded by Jeremy Bird, who served as national field director for Obama's reelection campaign, and Mitch Stewart, the 2012 campaign's battleground states director. The firm's roster is full of former Obama campaign aides, including one, 2012 deputy national field director Marlon Marshall, who is rumored to be in the running to serve as Booker's manager for his campaign against a crowded Democratic field that includes Rep. Rush Holt, Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver and Rep. Frank Pallone.
Booker enters the Democratic primary as an overwhelming favorite, and a lopsided victory in the August primary could provide the first opportunity for an Obama campaign offshoot to tout a victory over a more local operation. Pallone has hired general consultant Sean Darcy, who has previously worked for Democratic Garden State Govs. Jon Corzine and Dick Codey, as well as The Campaign Group, a Philadelphia-based media firm with extensive experience in New Jersey.
Booker's campaign isn't devoid of Garden State connections. Longtime Jersey Democratic operative Mark Matzen has served as one of Booker's chief political aides for several years, and Booker's media firm, Message & Media, is based in the Garden State. And Pallone's campaign has its own ties to Obama's political team through its polling firm, Anzalone Liszt Research. But 270 Strategies' prominent role in Booker's bid represents the earliest proving ground for one of the firms spawned by Obama's political team.
The New Jersey race isn't the only contest pitting 270 Strategies against more established Democrats. The firm has also signed on with Ro Khanna's race against Rep. Mike Honda, a fellow Democrat, in California's 17th District. Honda's campaign website is overflowing with establishment endorsements, including five of California's statewide elected officials, 34 out of his 37 fellow California Democrats in the House, and -- ironically -- Obama. (In another show of administration support, Vice President Joe Biden stopped by a local restaurant with Honda to glad-hand patrons during a recent swing through the district.)