New Hampshire Dems Take a Look at Fresh Faces

As Bernie Sanders returned to the state that supported him in 2016, three lesser-known Democrats also made the rounds

Supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) are already prepared for the next presidential election. (Hanna Trudo/National Journal)
Hanna Trudo
Add to Briefcase
Hanna Trudo
Sept. 10, 2017, 8 p.m.

MANCHESTER, N.H.—To have a shot in 2020, Democrats would be wise to start making their New Hampshire swings now.

That was the logic of a dozen state party officials, strategists, and activists who saw prospective candidates hailing from the Midwest and Southern California chat up locals and donors over the waning days of summer.

In the post-Hillary Clinton world of Democratic politics, it prompted early speculation that the state could embrace a relative unknown over a brand-name politician next time around.

“New Hampshire voters are somewhat unpredictable in who they’ll take a shine to,” said David Farmer, managing director of the Bernstein Shur Group, which specializes in politics in the first-in-the-nation primary state. “I would not advise anyone who’s a quality candidate to shy away just because some of the national-level politicians are already showing that they’re willing to engage.”

The days-long jockeying played out casually. A trio of men that locals couldn’t pick out of a lineup—Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, former Missouri secretary of state Jason Kander, and Rep. John Delaney of Maryland—promoted party and personal agendas during intimate gatherings, while the state’s most recent primary winner, Sen. Bernie Sanders of neighboring Vermont, held a campaign-style rally attracting hundreds.

“I would be remiss in this moment if I didn’t thank the people of New Hampshire for the support you gave me during the Democratic primary process,” Sanders, who defeated Clinton by 22 points there, said at a rally in Concord. It wasn’t long before shouts of “We love you Bernie!” and “He touched my hand!” rang out.

Hassan Essa, a Middle Eastern refugee running for alderman in Manchester, said after Sanders’s speech that “the state is his” if he runs again. But some New Hampshire insiders say the appetite may have changed since Sanders’s revolution first caught on.

“One of the things that I’m looking for in a candidate in 2020 is someone who’s new and fresh and young,” said Kathy Sullivan, a Democratic National Committeewoman from New Hampshire. “I think it’s time to start handing off to our next generation.”

New Hampshire has a habit of welcoming newbies (only three people showed up to meet Jimmy Carter in August 1975 in Concord and six months later he won the primary, residents like to point out). And the sheer number of Democrats potentially exploring presidential bids clouds the picture.

Household names such as former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren are being watched alongside Sens. Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Amy Klobuchar, among others.

Still, Sanders already has a fairly stable base of supporters in the state. In Concord, the senator highlighted the single-payer health care legislation he is set to roll out this week, which is increasingly dividing key Democrats. Warren and Harris, for example, publicly backed Sanders’s upcoming bill, while others have yet to jump on board.

Asked whether he would pressure Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez to support it, Sanders, charging through screaming crowds holding 2020 merchandise with his name, deflected.

“Why are you always—see, you’re interested in the politics,” he told National Journal. “I am interested in guaranteeing health care for all people, and we are going to develop a strong grassroots movement to do that.”

Elsewhere in the state, Garcetti and Kander worked small but occasionally raucous crowds of their own.

“The best movements in American history are not the ones that start in Washington,” Kander, whose plaid shirt fit the state’s unofficial uniform, said in Amherst. “They’re not the ones that start from somebody that everybody already knows.”

Those in attendance seemed to take a liking to the former elected official who came up just short in the Missouri Senate race last year.

“I’m a guy who can put a rifle together while blindfolded and on television,” he said, referencing a campaign ad promoting firearm background checks he used against Republican Sen. Roy Blunt.

“We chased the NRA out of our state,” Kander said to applause. “Bravo!” one woman cheered over his F rating from the pro-gun group. The ad worked again.

Kander’s latest gig, voting-rights group Let America Vote, provides a convenient way to canvas the country. “I’ve been to, I think, 20 states in the last few months,” he said, including stops in Iowa, Colorado, and Arizona, among others. At just 36, he also chairs the DNC’s Commission to Protect American Democracy, a Trump-resistance effort.

Garcetti has also been resisting. “It’s on the cities to save Washington,” he said at a Mexican restaurant in Manchester, just one-fortieth the size of Los Angeles.

Few people at the three stops he made one day to promote Manchester mayoral candidate Joyce Craig knew the Mexican-Italian-Jew from the San Fernando Valley. But they suggested that they knew why he was there.

“Why else would he come to New Hampshire?” Ethan Moorhouse, a young Democrat said after the two talked. “He’s really testing the ground.”

New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley agreed it’s smart to stop by now. “I think that he’s picked up some fans today,” he said. Farmer agreed: “If you’re thinking about it and you don’t have a national profile, if you come to New Hampshire to help a mayoral candidate or to speak, it’s a good test run.”

Garcetti also tailored his talk: “I know that you’re crippled by a health care crisis because of the opioids,” he said, “something that we experienced in Los Angeles maybe a decade earlier that we still see on our streets.”

He said his first trip to the state in “a couple decades” happened organically. Craig’s campaign reached out about a month and a half earlier, he estimated. “I said I was going to be in the Berkshires on vacation so I can come by,” Garcetti said.

Since Trump took office in January, other Democrats have found time to stop by. Biden, Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who is returning in mid-September, have all made trips promoting pet causes.

But Delaney, who announced in July he is forgoing a reelection bid to run for president, prefers being blunt. “I didn’t want to come up to New Hampshire and kind of act like I’m just here to say hello,” he said after chatting with young Democrats in Manchester, his first campaign stop in the state. “I’m much better when I’m straight with people about what I’m doing.”

The Maryland representative is cobbling together an early map: “We’re going to have an office open here in New Hampshire in the next month or two,” he told National Journal. “My plan is to do a couple hundred events in Iowa and New Hampshire between now and January 2019.” That’s when “the real campaign starts.”

A millionaire entrepreneur and third-term congressman, Delaney is the only candidate to formally announce a bid. And after founding two publicly traded companies, he says he’s just the guy to take on the Manhattan real estate mogul: “I created thousands of jobs,” he said, borrowing one of the president’s signature lines—but with one distinction.

“He’s going to ruin the Republican Party,” he said of Trump. “So then the question is, are the Democrats going to step forward and take advantage of that opportunity?”

What We're Following See More »
TO CLOSE TEST SITES
North Korea Says It Will Suspend Nuclear Tests
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

"North Korea says it has suspended nuclear and long-range missile tests and plans to close its nuclear test site. The North’s official Korean Central News Agency said the suspension of nuclear and ICBM tests went into effect Saturday." The announcement comes shortly before Kim Jong Un "is set to meet South Korean President Moon Jae-in in a border truce village for a rare summit aimed at resolving the nuclear standoff with Pyongyang."

Source:
FOSTER FREISS TO MAKE ANNOUNCEMENT TODAY
GOP Megadonor Running For Governor In Wyoming
6 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Republican megadonor Foster Friess has told party leaders in Wyoming that he plans to run for governor," and is expected to make an announcement this afternoon. Friess has donated "millions of dollars to Republican candidates and causes over the last decade, according to federal campaign finance records," including over "$1.7 million to boost Santorum's [presidential] campaign" in 2016. Gov. Matt Mead (R) is term-limited, and "a handful of Republicans are running in an open primary to succeed him in one of the reddest states in the country."

Source:
DEATH TOLL REACHES 38
Israeli Army Kills Four Palestinian Protestors
8 hours ago
THE LATEST

Four Palestinian protestors have been killed by Israeli fire near the Gaza-Israel border, bringing the death toll to 38, in what marks the "fourth consecutive week of Gaza's March of Return mass protests." The marches are part of a "month-and-a-half-long protest organized by Hamas near the border fence," which organizers have said will not stop before May 15. The marches are intended to emulate anti-apartheid protests in South Africa, and to commemorate the forced expulsion of Palestinians from their homes in 1948, during the establishment of the State of Israel.

Source:
NO TIMELINE SET
McCabe To Sue For Wrongful Termination, Defamation
8 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe is looking to sue for defamation, wrongful termination and other possible civil claims, his lawyer told reporters Friday." McCabe's attorney Michael Bromwich said that his team "hasn't managed to find any witnesses to corroborate McCabe's version of the story," although they have not had enough time to do so. "McCabe’s lawyers are also seeking ways to release the emails between McCabe and Comey, which would offer insight into their communication about the leaks to the Wall Street Journal."

Source:
SEEKS COMPENSATORY DAMAGES
DNC Files Sweeping Lawsuit Over 2016 Election
9 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

"The Democratic National Committee filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit Friday against the Russian government, the Trump campaign and the WikiLeaks organization alleging a far-reaching conspiracy to disrupt the 2016 campaign and tilt the election to Donald Trump. The complaint, filed in federal district court in Manhattan, alleges that top Trump campaign officials conspired with the Russian government and its military spy agency to hurt Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and help Trump by hacking the computer networks of the Democratic Party and disseminating stolen material found there." The DNC is seeking "millions of dollars in compensation to offset damage it claims the party suffered from the hacks," and is arguing the cyberattack" undermined its ability to communicate with voters, collect donations and operate effectively as its employees faced personal harassment and, in some cases, death threats."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login