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Warren to visit N.H. this weekend, headline Feb. Democratic fundraising dinner

  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is surrounded by reporters at the Massachusetts Statehouse last week in Boston. AP

For the Monitor
Published: 1/9/2019 2:41:43 PM

Elizabeth Warren has long been a friend and supporter of the New Hampshire Democratic Party.

Now, it appears state party officials are returning the favor by naming the U.S. senator from Massachusetts and all-but-certain presidential candidate as the keynote speaker at its annual McIntyre-Shaheen 100 Club Dinner, which is one of the two major fundraising events it holds annually.

By headlining the dinner, the progressive champion who last week announced the formation of a presidential exploratory committee, will have the chance to address up to 1,000 Democratic activists, officials, lawmakers and rainmakers in the first-in-the nation primary state. The dinner is expected to also draw a large contingent of national media, and will be televised live on C-SPAN.

“I would say that’s a coup for her,” said Terry Shumaker, a Manchester-based attorney and Democratic activist who’s been a close friend and adviser to former president Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton for decades.

“Any of the Democratic candidates would have been pleased to have been invited,” Shumaker added.

The dinner will be held on Feb. 22 in Manchester. But Warren won’t wait that long to come to the Granite State. She’s due to visit Saturday, with a public stop at Manchester Community College at 12:45 p.m. and a private appearance later in the day at a house party in Concord.

The 69-year-old senator from Massachusetts hasn’t set foot publicly in New Hampshire since 2016, when she campaigned for now-Sen. Maggie Hassan and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Colin Van Ostern days before the general election. She also made a trip to New Hampshire a few weeks earlier to team up on the campaign trail with Hillary Clinton.

While Warren avoided any trips to the Granite State in the 2018 cycle, when she was running for re-election to a second term representing Massachusetts in the Senate, she was one of the biggest contributors to the New Hampshire Democratic Party. She also loaned two of her staffers to the state party during general election campaign.

Longtime state party chairman Ray Buckley noted Warren’s support in announcing the news on Wednesday that she would headline the dinner.

“Senator Warren has long been an ardent supporter of New Hampshire Democrats,” Buckley said in a statement. “Senator Warren actively campaigned for Senator Jeanne Shaheen in 2014 and Senator Maggie Hassan in 2016. Senator Warren’s significant support in 2018 helped New Hampshire Democrats take back control of the Executive Council, State Senate and State House and keep our federal delegation blue in November.”

In years prior to the primary – or in election years – the dinner has typically showcased a Democrat with eyes on the White House. Last year, voting rights activist and former Missouri secretary of state Jason Kander – who at the time was exploring a presidential nomination run – headlined the event. Former vice president Joe Biden gave the keynote address in 2017. And in 2016 – just days before the primary – the dinner was headlined by Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley.

Warren enters a Democratic field that’s shaping up as the most crowded in decades. Sen. Corey Booker of New Jersey, another likely contender, was also a major contributor in 2018 to the New Hampshire Democratic Party. Last month, he headlined a state party event in Manchester that celebrated their victories in the midterm elections.

But not all Democrats are welcomed equally in New Hampshire. Another likely presidential contender, Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee, recently drew some fire from Buckley after announcing he would be coming to the state on Jan. 21.

“I look forward to hearing from Gov. Inslee, his reasons for abandoning New Hampshire in 2018 as chair of the DGA,” Buckley said last week.

Inslee chaired the Democratic Governors Association during the 2018 election cycle. He visited New Hampshire just days after former state Sen. Molly Kelly won the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in the state’s Sept. 11 primary, teaming up with Kelly at multiple events.

The DGA ended up putting no money into the New Hampshire gubernatorial showdown, while the rival Republican Governor’s Association showered some $300,000 into the race in the closing days, in support of Sununu.

At the time, an internal Democratic poll suggested Sununu’s lead had dropped to a single point. The Republican governor ended up defeating Kelly by a 53 percent to 46 percent margin.

Warren’s announcement could set up a potential blockbuster battle between Warren and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders for the progressive base of the Democratic Party and for bragging rights in New Hampshire.

Sanders, the 77-year-old independent senator from Vermont, is seriously mulling a second-straight bid for the Democratic nomination. Sanders’s crushing defeat of Clinton in the 2016 first-in-the-nation presidential primary launched him into a marathon fight for the nomination with the eventual nominee.

Both Sanders and Warren come from states that neighbor New Hampshire, making a strong finish in the Granite State crucial to both candidates.

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