On the trail: Castro beefing up campaign staff in N.H.

  • Julian Castro attends a Politics and Eggs event in January. PAUL STEINHAUSER / For the Monitor

For the Monitor
Published: 7/18/2019 4:54:52 PM

Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro says he’s capitalizing on his bump in fundraising to beef up his campaign staff in the first-in-the-nation primary state.

The former San Antonio mayor, who later served as Housing and Urban Development secretary under former President Barack Obama, gave his long-shot White House bid a big boost with what many pundits called a breakout performance during the first round of Democratic nomination debates last month.

Castro brought in $2.8 million in the April-June second quarter of fundraising, nearly triple the $1.1 million he raised in the first three months of the year. Nearly half of that haul came in the four days after his June 26 debate performance.

“We’re capitalizing on the fundraising momentum that we had out of the debate by beefing up our staffs in these early states, of course including New Hampshire,” Castro told the Monitor on Thursday. “So we’re looking at adding people there and also working to hire people at the headquarters.”

Right now the only paid staffer in New Hampshire is state Rep. Manny Espita of Nashua, who’s serving as state director. There are also seven paid interns on the ground in the Granite State. Espitia said he plans on making hires to expand the staff in the next couple of weeks.

Castro was interviewed hours before he arrived in New Hampshire for a two-day campaign swing. His itinerary includes a 1:30 p.m. meet-and-greet Friday at Gibson’s Bookstore in downtown Concord.

Afterwards, Castro’s scheduled to walk up Main Street to the State House, where he’ll join demonstrators at their weekly protest against the federal government’s detention centers holding undocumented immigrants. Castro, the only Latino candidate in the White House race, has made the issue of illegal immigration a central part of his presidential bid.

While in front of the State House, he’ll speak with leaders of the Kent Street Coalition, a progressive grassroots group that’s organized the demonstrations.

Castro’s also getting ready for the second round of debates, which will be held later this month in Detroit. He looks at the showdowns – watched by millions of Americans – as an opportunity to increase his visibility among voters.

“I’m going to keep introducing myself to the American people. My name ID got a lot better after the first debate but I still have some work to do. So I’m going to keep articulating a positive vision for America’s future and I’m confident that people are going to respond,” he said.

Castro spoke with the Monitor a day after the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted against a resolution to begin impeachment proceedings against Republican President Donald Trump.

It was a bipartisan vote, with a majority of Democrats joining the minority Republicans.

Castro was the first 2020 Democratic White House hopeful to call for Trump’s impeachment.

“I believe that impeachment proceedings should begin against the president,” he said. “I can understand the concerns of some Democrats who have chosen not to support that but I believe it’s a mistake not to go forward.”

Hickenlooper vows to fight on

John Hickenlooper likes to highlight that he’s been vacationing in New Hampshire “every summer of my adult life.”

“My great aunt bought an old wooden un-winterized camp up on Squam Lake. I come for one or two weeks,” the former two-term Colorado governor told the Monitor on Wednesday. “When you come up and you’re at the center of the state, you go explore. I’ve hiked a bunch of the White Mountains. I’ve been to some of the smaller towns.

“I do feel like in a funny way, New Hampshire is a second home,” he said.

Hickenlooper spent two nights at the cabin this week, while he was back in the Granite State.

But this summer’s activities are a bit different – he’s running for president.

Hickenlooper, a geologist by training who later started a very successful brewery in downtown Denver before being twice elected the city’s mayor ahead of winning the governorship, declared his candidacy in March.

His White House campaign hasn’t soared and he’s considered a long-shot for the Democratic nomination in a record-setting field of some two-dozen candidates.

Hickenlooper will appear in the second round of Democratic nomination debates later this month. But the Democratic National Committee is raising the thresholds for the third round in September. It’s likely Hickenlooper will struggle to meet the criteria, which includes having 130,000 individuals donating to the campaign.

The former governor had a lackluster second quarter of fundraising – bringing in just $1 million over the past three months. Compare that the $1 million he hauled in during the first 48 hours of his campaign. And a few weeks ago much of his senior staff jumped ship over differences with the candidate over the future of the campaign.

Hickenlooper said he’s at a fundraising disadvantage.

“These rules are not designed to favor governors from smaller states. There are five and a half million people in Colorado. It’s not a gigantic state like California or New York.”

But Montana Gov. Steve Bullock – whose state has a much smaller population than Colorado – outraised Hickenlooper by nearly $1 million in the April-May period. And Bullock didn’t jump into the race until halfway through the fundraising quarter.

“Fundraising is hard,” he lamented.

But Hickenlooper said he’ll work harder.

“We’ll have enough money” he vowed. “I don’t see the money being the reason we don’t continue the campaign.”

2020 GOP Senate primary battle: And then there were three

Bryant “Corky” Messner is taking a major step towards launching a bid for the Republican Senate nomination.

Advisers to the trial lawyer and retired Army Ranger who graduated from West Point say on Thursday he filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to form an exploratory committee.

“I am deeply humbled by the encouragement I have received in my travels all across New Hampshire,” Messner said in a statement.”

The New Hampshire Democratic Party quickly took aim at Messner, who long lived in Colorado before becoming a resident of Wolfeboro about a year ago.

“Being a Colorado multi-millionaire with money to burn doesn’t qualify you to be New Hampshire’s U.S. senator,” longtime NHDP chair Ray Buckley argued. “Corky Messner can spend all his money, but New Hampshire voters aren’t going to be fooled by this Trump wannabe’s vanity project.”

Messner’s likely entry into the race will bring to three the number of Republicans running to try and unseat two-term Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

Retired Army Brigadier Gen. Donald Bolduc – a Laconia native who now lives in Stratham – launched his campaign last month. And former New Hampshire House Speaker Bill O’Brien’s expected to declare his candidacy next Tuesday. O’Brien continues to build up his team. He recently hired well-known conservative consultant Brent Littlefield – who served as chief strategist for Frank Edelblut’s 2016 gubernatorial bid. On Thursday, he announced that former four-term state Rep. David Bates of Windham – a former assistant House Majority Whip – will come on board as campaign manager.

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