MANCHESTER — Democratic presidential contender Cory Booker trails his rivals in the polls and in pursuit of the biggest checks but he struck a blow in his bid to win the “first primary” Thursday with a list of 42 new activists backing his 2020 campaign.
The announcement swells Booker’s endorsement team to nearly 50, which is the biggest number for any of the nearly two dozen Democrats seeking the presidential nomination.
Many political observers say this early scramble of candidates to convince the most political active residents in the state to endorse them is the “first primary” that every four years plays out many months before the first-in-the-nation primary votes are cast.
During an interview last weekend, the New Jersey senator Booker said these personal testaments will help him leapfrog up from his single digit position in the polls, far behind the five leading Democratic contenders.
“Nobody knows when that breakthrough moment is going to arrive but I feel very good about how our campaign is preparing to take full advantage when it does,” Booker said.
JoAnne St. John is a longtime Nashua Democratic activist who worked on President Obama’s campaigns and played an organizational role in gains NH Democrats made in 2016 and 2018 elections.
“You only have to watch Cory Booker in person to know why he’s the best candidate in this race,” St. John said in a statement. “I came away from his speech this weekend in Nashua inspired and ready to take action. Sharp, smart, passionate and driven, Cory’s vision for our country is ambitious and forward-thinking. He is a proven fighter who has taken on tough challenges and gotten results.”
Pat Kalik of Manchester has worked on many campaigns.
“I know the real deal when I see it,” Kalik said. “Cory Booker has invested heavily in New Hampshire, hiring a smart, experienced team and spending time talking to thousands and thousands of voters. He has a long history of working tirelessly to pass critical legislation, and to make lives better for all Americans. Cory is the best person to take on Donald Trump in this race, and I am proud to join this group of activists in standing by his side.”
Former State Rep. John Knowles and his late wife, Mary Anne, were early supporters of both Bill and Hillary Clinton and their story about struggles with health insurance put that issue on the front burner in 1992 and in 2008.
“Cory brings strong, progressive values and substantial leadership experience — both executive and legislative — to this race,” Knowles said. “He is aware of the issues facing our communities here in New Hampshire, and has passion to fight for what’s right. He will bring Americans together to build a more just and fair nation for everyone. The word I most associate with Cory is ‘presidential’ — because that’s what he is.”
Other new Booker supporters included North Conway business owner Kyle Ball of Tamworth; nurse Claire Connolly of Lebanon; filmmaker and media educator Samantha Davidson Green; ex-Democratic Senate staffer Johanna Evans of Hanover; veteran political journalist Tom Fiedler of Ashland; gun prevention activist Clai Lasher-Sommers of Westmoreland; Air Force veteran Marty Mobley of Manchester; Democratic Party delegates Jena Stevens of Freedom and Shideko Terai of Cornish.
The endorsements came after another primary rival, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., announced her own impressive list of nine Democrats backing her candidacy led by Executive Councilor Debora Pignatelli, D-Nashua, former Attorney General Joe Foster of Nashua, ex-U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Jim Smith of Salem, former gubernatorial chief of staff Rich Sigel of Manchester and former Clinton administration/ex-State Rep. Ricia McMahon of Sutton.
“We are honored to welcome this group of esteemed individuals to Senator Klobuchar’s team,” said Scott Merrick, NH state director of Amy for America. “They are all proven leaders in both their professional lines of work, and communities in which they reside, and we are grateful for their support of our growing campaign. They all believe in Amy’s ambitious and optimistic agenda, but more importantly, they recognize her unique qualifications to win both the primary and the general election.”
Klobuchar returns to New Hampshire to campaign at three events here Saturday.
Also on Thursday, retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal endorsed the 2020 presidential bid of Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass. McChrystal commanded U.S. forces in Afghanistan from 2009-10.