On the trail: Bouley backs Booker in 2020 presidential primary race

  • New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker exits the stage after speaking at a get out the vote event hosted by the NH Young Democrats at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, N.H. Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/ Cheryl Senter) Cheryl Senter

  • Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., gestures to former Vice President Joe Biden during the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) Paul Sancya

For the Monitor
Published: 8/1/2019 5:27:19 PM

Longtime Concord Mayor Jim Bouley on Thursday endorsed Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The backing by Bouley – who has served as the capital city’s mayor for more than 11 years – came hours after Booker enjoyed what was considered a strong performance at Wednesday night’s Democratic presidential candidate debate in Detroit.

In making his endorsement, Bouley pointed to Booker’s 2006-13 tenure as mayor of Newark, the state of New Jersey’s largest city.

“As mayor of New Hampshire’s capital city, I’m proud to endorse Cory Booker for president. Cory stands out in the field for his executive experience managing his state’s largest city, and the results – a city that’s growing for the first time in 60 years – speak volumes about his success tackling the biggest challenges,” Bouley said.

Bouley explained that he’s talked to Booker “about his vision for the country and I wholeheartedly agree that we need to unite Americans so we can build a more fair and just nation for everyone.”

Bouley, who served on the city council for a decade before winning election as mayor, is also a partner in Dennehy and Bouley, a well-known Concord-based government affairs and lobbying firm.

Booker’s no stranger to the Granite State. He was in the first-in-the-nation primary state last fall, just days before the 2018 elections, to help Democrats running for office. Along with 2020 rival U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Booker was a top contributor to the state Democratic party during the 2018 cycle and raised more than $170,000 for the New Hampshire Democratic Party last year.

Since launching his presidential campaign at the beginning of February, he has attracted large crowds during his multiple visits to the Granite State. Booker’s also built a formidable campaign staff here.

While high-profile endorsements can often be overrated, they do pay dividends by grabbing media attention and providing a candidate a well-known surrogate.

In the 2016 New Hampshire primary, Bouley was one of the many leading Democratic officials who endorsed eventual nominee Hillary Clinton. But Clinton was decisively defeated in the primary by independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Sanders ended up carrying Concord in the primary.

This cycle to date, Booker’s campaign said he has landed the endorsements of more than 50 elected leaders and activists in the Granite State, more than any other 2020 contender in the record-setting field of some two-dozen Democratic presidential contenders. Booker is also the only White House hopeful to land endorsements from any of the 14 Democrats currently in the New Hampshire Senate. Earlier this year, state Sens. David Watters of Dover and Jon Morgan of Brentwood declared their support.

Lewandowski mullsSenate bid

There’s already two declared Republican candidates – and one likely on the way – in the battle for their party’s U.S. Senate nomination.

Now, there could be a fourth, as Corey Lewandowski is considering joining the GOP race to face off in 2020 against Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

Lewandowski – a close outsider adviser to President Donald Trump who managed Trump’s successful 2016 presidential campaign from its start through the primary calendar – confirmed that he’s looking “very hard” at a Senate bid.

“The president needs a strong supporter of his on the ticket in New Hampshire,” Lewandowski said. “New Hampshire is a state he lost by 2,700 votes, but having a strong, unified ticket in the state will help him be successful in 2020.”

In May, Lewandowski, a Windham resident, joined Vice President Mike Pence’s political action committee.

If he does decide to launch a campaign, he could quickly jump into front-runner status in the primary, thanks to close ties to the president and national profile, which would enhance his likely ability to bring in large amounts of fundraising dollars.

Former New Hampshire House Speaker Bill O’Brien of Nashua announced his candidacy last month. And in June, retired Army Brigadier Gen. Donald Bolduc launched his campaign. Last month, Wolfeboro attorney Bryant Messner formed an exploratory committee and is expected to formally jump into the race in the coming weeks.

Both O’Brien and Bolduc have the support of high-profile Granite State Trump loyalists – so a Lewandowski bid would likely shake up the race.

The New Hampshire Democratic Party defended Shaheen and blasted Lewandowski as a “craven lobbyist” who would “strip away Granite Staters’ health care.”

Shaheen – a former governor – announced in January that she would seek a third term.

New Hampshire is a key battleground state and it saw extremely competitive Senate races in both the 2014 and 2016 cycles.

But Republicans see Shaheen’s seat as a potential pick-up as they play defense elsewhere in 2020 while seeking to hold their 53-47 majority in the chamber. Shaheen announced in January that she would seek a third term.

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