Booker criticizes Sununu over N.H. voting laws

  • Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., pays the filing fee to have his name listed on the New Hampshire primary ballot, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, in Concord, N.H. At left is New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Charles Krupa

  • Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., speaks with supporters after he filed to have his name listed on the New Hampshire primary ballot, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Charles Krupa

  • Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., addresses supporters outside the State House after filing to have his name listed on the New Hampshire primary ballot, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Charles Krupa

  • Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., passes by students from Bow Elementary School who were on a field trip to the State House as he departs after filing to have his name listed on the New Hampshire primary ballot, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Charles Krupa

  • Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., addresses supporters outside the State House after filing to have his name listed on the New Hampshire primary ballot, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Charles Krupa

  • Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., addresses supporters outside the State House after filing to have his name listed on the New Hampshire primary ballot, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Charles Krupa

  • Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., shakes hands with New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner, left, after filing to have his name listed on the New Hampshire primary ballot, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Charles Krupa

For the Monitor
Published: 11/15/2019 3:43:41 PM
Modified: 11/15/2019 3:43:26 PM

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker is taking aim at New Hampshire Republican Gov. Chris Sununu over a controversial state law that imposes voter residency requirements.

The senator from New Jersey – speaking with reporters on Friday after filing to place his name on the first-in-the-nation presidential primary ballot – discussed his efforts to champion expanding voting rights.

Booker then emphasized that, “I’m going to criticize any state that takes these actions and if I’m president, my Justice Department will come after states that are violating voting rights, and I’m going to say that to this governor here.”

The law at issue is House Bill 1264, which was passed in 2018 by the then-Republican controlled state House and Senate and signed into law by the GOP incumbent governor. The law – which is currently being challenged in court – targets mainly out-of-state students attending New Hampshire colleges and universities, but also military personnel and medical residents stationed in the state. If the measure eventually takes effect, those out-of-staters would have to become New Hampshire residents to vote, or would instead have to cast an absentee ballot in their native state.

The law is vehemently opposed by Democrats, who label it a voter suppression effort. But many Republicans, who’ve long argued that there’s voter fraud in New Hampshire, see the measure as restoring ballot integrity by ensuring that only residents can vote in Granite State elections.

Asked if the Justice Department in a Booker administration would target New Hampshire, the candidate said, “anybody who’s putting restrictions on the right to vote should have, at the very least, the Justice Department taking a look at those actions to see if they have a discriminatory impact or violate any federal rules.”

The governor’s office fired back at Booker’s assertions.

“It is a fact that New Hampshire is the easiest state in the country to vote in. In New Jersey, you must be a resident to vote in their elections. The same is now true in New Hampshire,” Sununu spokesman Ben Vihstadt said in response to Booker’s comments.

“These baseless attacks from the struggling-to-be relevant 2020 candidates are without merit, and are blatantly hypocritical when their own states place higher barriers to voting than New Hampshire ever has, or ever will,” he added.

New Jersey requires a person to be a resident of the state for at least 30 days before registering and has a registration deadline of 21 days before an election, according to a report compiled by the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s office.

Asked about his state’s law, Booker said, “our law in New Jersey continues to improve.”

And he noted that Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy “is pushing to expand and improve upon our voting laws. What you see from New Jersey to California, governors standing up to say, ‘We should be doing more to make access available and robust here.’ Here you’re going the opposite direction, because you have a governor that believes it is better to restrict access to the polls than to make it more robust.”

Booker’s among a group of Democratic White House hopefuls who have criticized the measure. And Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s New Hampshire state director has joined the lawsuit against HB 1264.

Booker’s made numerous trips to New Hampshire and the other early voting states of Iowa, Nevada and South Carolina, and he’s built up formidable organizing teams in those states. He’s also a talented orator who excels in the kind of retail politics needed to perform well in New Hampshire and Iowa. But he’s languishing in the low single digits in most early states and national polling in the 2020 Democratic nomination race.

But Booker insisted that he’s on the move in the “metrics that matter.” Booker highlighted that “What we’re seeing every day from the crowds that we’re getting that are coming out to my events, to the support from people in New Hampshire donating to my campaign, to. ... leading this campaign in (endorsements from) local elected officials who have heft and influence in their communities.”

With less than two and a half months to go until Iowa and New Hampshire kick off the presidential nominating calendar, Booker looked back at history and emphasized, “If you look at what it’s taken to go on to the White House from the Democratic Party, if you look at from Carter to Obama, we are where they were at this time.”

And the confident candidate argued that, “I have that right stuff that I believe will win here in the Granite State.”

Booker told the Monitor that “some of my closest friends in all of politics have either run or are still running” for the White House.

“I do not take it as a personal insult that my friends believe that they are the best person to be president. It is a good thing that we have a robust competition at a time that we need to make sure that whoever emerges from this is the best person to beat Donald Trump,” Booker highlighted.

And he added, “I’m running my race. There have been people coming in and people going out and I’m sure that still might change. But I’m very excited about the campaign that we’ve built.”

Booker emphasized, “I’m not focusing on those other candidates,” and refused to criticize his rivals. He told Fox News that the decisions that voters make are “not by how well I take shots at other Democrats. In fact, I think that in this race, that should be a flaw that people should point out, and should make them choose the person that doesn’t take potshots at other candidates.”




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