New Hampshire will play a key role in the effort to draft Elizabeth Warren to take on Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, spokesmen for two key liberal activist groups say.
Democracy for America today is urging its members nationwide – including more than 15,000 in first-primary state New Hampshire — to join MoveOn.org’s effort, also announced today, to draft the Massachusetts senator to run for President.
MoveOn announced that it plans to spend $1 million on the draft campaign to try to convince Warren to run. It has been polling its members on whether they support a draft effort, with results to be announced tomorrow.
The announcement by MoveOn.org and the decision to back the effort by DFA follows the release of a “Presidential Pulse” poll last month in which DFA members supported Warren by a wide margin over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Clinton. DFA was founded by former presidential candidate Howard Dean and is chaired by his brother, Jim Dean.
Warren has said repeatedly she is not running for President, but that has not deterred her supporters.
MoveOn.org’s lead campaign director, Victoria Kaplan, told the New Hampshire Journal today the group fully expects its members to support a draft movement when the poll results are announced tomorrow.
She said MoveOn plans to open offices and hire staff in New Hampshire and Iowa, which holds the first caucus in the presidential nominating process, as part of the draft movement. She said MoveOn has about 43,000 members in New Hampshire.
“Obviously New Hampshire is always a critical state in any presidential primary,” Kaplan said, “and with Elizabeth Warren representing neighboring Massachusetts, we expect to see an increasing demonstration of support for her getting into the race.”
She said evidence of the draft movement will be seen in the state “right away” after the release of tomorrow’s polling results.
New Hampshire has long been “Clinton Country,” dating back to Bill Clinton’s second place “Comeback Kid” finish in the 1992 presidential primary, and most recently with Hillary Clinton’s come-from-behind win over Barack Obama in the 2008 primary.
She has consistently been far ahead in pre-2016 polling in New Hampshire, as well as nationally. And the “Ready for Hillary” PAC has been gearing up in the Granite State for nearly a year, playing a key role on behalf of top-of-ticket Democrats such as Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, during the midterm election campaign.
While Clinton will be formidable in New Hampshire, MoveOn intends to focus entirely on Warren.
Kaplan said, “This is going to be a 100 percent positive campaign about Elizabeth Warran and her message of strengthening the middle class, supporting working families and addressing the issues facing the country. We believe and MoveOn members also believe that a contested primary is a good thing for the Democratic Party.”
DFA, meanwhile, could be a key player in the movement in New Hampshire.
According to Neil Sroka, the group’s national communications director, DFA has 15,206 members in the Granite State.
He said DFA’s plans for the state in the 2016 election are “still developing, but with the kind of deep membership we have in New Hampshire, there will be robust local and national efforts to get Elizabeth Warren into the race and her ideas at the center of the presidential debate.”
Many DFA members in New Hampshire, he noted, first became involved in New Hampshire politics by “knocking on doors” for Howard Dean when he ran for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination.
Sroka, while working nationally for DFA, has direct ties to New Hampshire. In 2010, he was communication director for future Rep. Ann Kuster’s congressional campaign, working under then-campaign manager and current Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern.
Sroka then worked for the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) PAC during the 2012 election cycle, as the group aired ads against then-U.S. Rep. Charlie Bass on Medicaid and supported Kuster and Rep. Carol Shea-Porter. In the 2014 cycle, DFA supported six state Senate candidates as part of its “purple-to-blue” program.
The tough atmosphere for down-ticket Democrats in the Granite State resulted in only two of them, Sens. Martha Fuller Clark and David Watters, winning.
Coincidentally, heading “Ready for Hillary” in New Hampshire and all of New England is another Kuster alumnus. Sean Downey was district director of Kuster’s congressional office before stepping down to take the “Ready for Hillary” post.
DFA executive director Charles Chamberlain said in a statement, “Washington consultants can spout off a dozen reasons why Elizabeth Warren shouldn’t run, but none of that beltway blather means a thing next to this one, simple truth: The Democratic Party and our country desperately need Warren’s voice in the 2016 presidential debate.
“After seeing how enthusiastic Democracy for America members are about a potential Warren campaign in DFA’s 2016 Presidential Pulse Poll, we’re incredibly excited to see MoveOn take the leap and ask their members about launching an effort to get her to join the 2016 race.
“Senator Warren has deep grassroots support, an unwavering populist progressive vision, and the fearless fighting spirit needed to win the support of Democrats, independents and Republicans. And that’s why, pending the results of MoveOn’s vote, we will ask DFA members to support our plans to join the emerging Draft Warren effort,” Chamberlain said.