On the Trail: 2020 courting of influential N.H. Democrats gets underway

It may not be outwardly visible, but behind the scenes, the 2020 race for the White House is definitely underway in New Hampshire, the state that for a century has held the first presidential primary.

Potential Democratic presidential contenders are busy putting plans in place to launch likely White House campaigns. They’re also quietly courting Granite State Democratic lawmakers and rainmakers.

State House Democratic leader Steve Shurtleff, who’s all but certain to be elected the chamber’s next speaker, told the Monitor that after winning his party’s nomination for post, he received congratulatory calls from former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

“Being a prior Biden supporter in ’08, it’s always nice to hear from the former vice president,” added the longtime state lawmaker from Concord.

It was a similar story for state Senate Democratic leader Donna Soucy, who’s expected to win election as the chamber’s president next month. She told the Monitor that Biden, Booker, and Warren called her earlier this month to congratulate her after the now-majority Democratic caucus nominated her as Senate president.

Soucy added that she received calls from a couple of other potential White House hopefuls, including Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio. “I went to law school with him. He’s looking at the race as well,” she said.

Likewise, longtime state senator Lou D’Allesandro says he’s been getting a lot of calls lately.

“Our phone is ringing,” shared the longtime Democratic lawmaker from Manchester who rattled off the names of a dozen potential Democratic White House hopefuls who’ve reached to him in recent weeks.

“Let’s say the lines of communication are open and obviously you’re happy that all of these people want to come to New Hampshire,” added D’Allesandro, who’s long played an influential role in the state’s presidential primary.

Booker’s return

On his trip to New Hampshire last month, Sen. Cory Booker told the Monitor that he’d “start thinking about 2020” right after this month’s midterm elections.

It appears the New Jersey Democrat’s doing more than just thinking.

The likely White House contender is returning to Granite State early next month, for his second visit in six weeks. Booker will headline the New Hampshire Democratic Party’s “Post-Election Victory Celebration.”

The event, celebrating state Democratic gains made in the midterm election, will be held Dec. 8 at 2:30pm at the New Hampshire Institute of Art in downtown Manchester.

Booker raised more than $170,000 for the state party, and along with another potential presidential contender, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, was a top contributor to the NHDP during the 2018 cycle.

While Booker’s trip will grab plenty of national attention, he wasn’t the first 2020 Democrat to parachute into New Hampshire after the midterms. That honor went to New York based entrepreneur Andrew Yang – who declared his longshot candidacy for president earlier this year. Yang stopped in the Granite State the Monday after the midterms.

Steyer to stop in N.H.

Billionaire environmentalist and progressive activist Tom Steyer unveiled a Democratic platform this week and backed his proposals up with a six figure ad buy. Steyer, who made two stops in New Hampshire his summer, is returning in January, during his upcoming town hall tour to promote his platform.

“New Hampshire is an important stop because so much of the conversation pertaining to both the future of the Democratic Party and the future of our country is happening there,” Steyer spokeswoman Aleigha Cavalier said.

Steyer, who founded the influential organization NextGen America, has also been a leader in the movement to impeach President Donald Trump. Last year he launched the group Need to Impeach.

The case of the missing ballot box

There weren’t any hanging chads, but there was drama at Tuesday’s recount of the New Hampshire Senate District 23 battle between incumbent GOP Sen. Bill Gannon and Democratic challenger Jon Morgan.

After election officials finished re-counting the ballots, the count was below the final tally from election night by a couple of hundred votes.

The culprit – a ballot box in Exeter that had failed to be delivered to election officials in Concord. After the box arrived at the state archives building – where election officials were huddled, the recount resumed.

Longtime New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner, who was overseeing the recount, said a missing ballot box, while rare, had happened a couple of decades ago in a previous state Senate recount.

“When we have this kind of situation, we have always been able to resolve it,” he said as he waited for the missing ballots to arrive.

The recount, by the way, upheld Morgan’s narrow victory over Gannon.


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