MANCHESTER Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker’s campaign manager said New Hampshire has become “more crucial” even though rival states will start voting earlier in 2020 than in past elections.

New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary is tentatively set for Feb. 11, 2020.

By then, however, voters in California will have started casting their ballots by mail for a primary that will not take place until March.

During an interview with the Union Leader, Addisu Demissie said that with nearly 20 Democratic candidates, voters in other states will take their cues from Granite Staters.

“There are a lot of people who are going to be voting in February, not just here but across the country” Demissie said. “But I think that is what makes New Hampshire even more important and I think Cory recognizes that. The traditional, winnowing responsibility that New Hampshire has is even more critical when you have a field of 20.”

“When people actually have ballots in their hand in California, they are going to be looking at what New Hampshire is sending to them as a signal of who to pay more attention to. I think it’s going to be even more important, not less.”

Demissie most recently managed Gavin Newsom’s winning campaign to become governor of California last November. He ran Booker’s first bid for the U.S. Senate in 2013.

“I think he is supremely ready to be President because he has had that executive experience and now has had that legislative experience. He knows who he is and what is his place in the discussion,” Demissie said.

Booker has spent considerable time campaigning in New Hampshire, visiting three times since officially declaring his candidacy.

During 2018 Booker raised the most money in New Hampshire of any prospective 2020 Democratic candidate.

So far, however, the New Jersey senator remains mired in seventh place with 3.8 percent support in New Hampshire, according to the polling average from Real Clear Politics.

That puts him far behind the likes of Joe Biden (24.5 percent) — who is expected to announce his candidacy this week — and Bernie Sanders (22 percent).

“We are interested in winning in February of next year and everything that happens this year has to be with an eye towards making sure we are pointing to be successful when people are making that voting decision,” Demissie said.

“I think most people are going to make their ultimate decisions about who to vote for in the calendar year of 2020.”

On fundraising, Booker has done well but the $5 million he raised in the first quarter was outpaced by Sanders ($18 million), California Sen. Kamala Harris ($12 million), former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke ($9.4 million) and even South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg ($7 million).

“Money in and of itself is a means to an end. We have the resources to fund the strategy we discussed. If you can fund your budget you can win,” Demissie said.

klandrigan@unionleader.com