On the trail: Don’t be so quick to write the New Hampshire primary’s obituary

  • U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., speaks at an event Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, in North Las Vegas, Nev. (AP Photo/John Locher) John Locher

  • 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks to local residents during an organizing event, Friday, March 1, 2019, in Dubuque, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall) Charlie Neibergall

  • Senator Kirsten Gillibrand spoke to students from Paul Quinn College in Dallas, Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019. Senator Gillibrand made her first visit to Texas as a presidential candidate visiting the historically black college on Wednesday and will visit Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders on Thursday. Ben Torres/Special Contributor Ben Torres

  • Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks, Friday, March 1, 2019, during a campaign event at A&R Solar in Seattle. Inslee announced that he will seek the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, mixing calls for combating climate change and highlights of his liberal record with an aggressive critique of President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren) Ted S. Warren

  • Libertarian vice presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, and his wife Leslie Marshall, hold their ballots after leaving the voting booth at the John F. Kennedy Elementary School in Canton, Mass., Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer) Michael Dwyer

  • FILE - In this Aug. 31, 2016 file photo, then-U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro speaks during a news conference in Providence, R.I. Castro is scheduled to deliver the commencement address at New England College, Saturday, May 12, 2018, in Henniker, N.H.(AP Photo/Steven Senne, File) Steven Senne

  • FILE - In this Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019 file photo, former Democratic Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke laughs during a live interview with Oprah Winfrey on a Times Square stage at "SuperSoul Conversations," in New York. O'Rourke formally announced Thursday that he'll seek the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, ending months of intense speculation over whether he'd try to translate his newfound political celebrity into a White House bid. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File) Kathy Willens

For the Monitor
Published: 3/14/2019 5:18:22 PM

According to legend, Mark Twain quipped that “the reports of my death are greatly exaggerated” after hearing rumors that he had died.

The same could be said today regarding New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary.

Every four years, some political reporters predict peril in the Granite State, which for a century has held the first primary in the nominating calendar.

In recent months, with the prospect of early voting in California’s presidential primary kicking off before New Hampshire votes, some news organizations once again envisioned doom and gloom.

“First in name only?” read one recent headline in the Boston Globe.

While such predictions may prove true in the future, it’s not the case in the 2020 presidential cycle.

Declared and potential presidential contenders have been flocking to New Hampshire the past two months. Over the next few days, six White House hopefuls and two possible candidates are slated to hold events in the Granite State.

The Democratic contenders in New Hampshire this weekend are Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington, former San Antonio mayor and former U.S. Housing and Urban Development secretary Julian Castro, and bestselling spiritual author Marianne Williamson. Also in the state this weekend as they mull White House bids are New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts.

And former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld, who’s formed a presidential exploratory committee as he mulls a GOP primary challenge against Republican President Donald Trump, is also in New Hampshire on Friday.

“I do think the gloom and doom is overblown,” said communications consultant Josh McElveen, a former longtime WMUR political director and anchor. “As far as the primary’s concerned, I think the health of it is pretty strong.”

And New Hampshire Institute of Politics executive director Neil Levesque said that he’s never seen it so busy.

“Ten months out from the primary, we have the amount of activity as we usually do four weeks away from the primary,” he said. “If people have written obituaries about the primary, they are completely wrong.”

Beto’s in

After lots of anticipation and teasing, former three-term representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas launched his Democratic presidential campaign Thursday.

O’Rourke – who became a Democratic Party celebrity for his near-defeat of conservative Sen. Ted Cruz in last year’s midterm elections – kicked off his nascent campaign in Iowa.

So when will the 46-year-old White House hopeful come to New Hampshire?

The Monitor reached out to O’Rourke’s campaign, but they were unable to unveil a date at this time.

However, Concord-based attorney and party activist Jay Surdukowski, arguably O’Rourke’s biggest fan in New Hampshire, isn’t concerned.

“I think Beto knows that we’re important and I think he’ll compete here,” Surdukowski said soon after O’Rourke’s announcement.

What other Dems may soon jump in?

O’Rourke’s the latest entry into the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, but he surely won’t be the last.

Here’s a look at who’s likely to come next:

■Former vice president Joe Biden earlier this week dropped his clearest hint yet that he’s all but certain to launch what would be his third White House bid.

Biden was greeted with chants of “run Joe, run” as he took the podium Tuesday in Washington, D.C., at the annual convention of the International Association of Fire Fighters union. Many in the crowd also were waving “Run, Joe, Run,” and “Fire Fighters for Biden” signs.

A few minutes later, during his keynote address, Biden said: “I appreciate the energy you showed when I got up here. Save it a little longer. I may need it in a few weeks.”

■Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado – during a jam-packed trip last week to New Hampshire – told the Monitor that his decision would come in “weeks, not months.”

“I’m inclined to do it,” he said.

■Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana returns to New Hampshire next week. And last month he stopped in Iowa, which votes first in the presidential caucus and primary calendar.

The two-term governor has said he likely will not make any public announcements about his 2020 intentions until after Montana’s legislative session concludes in April.

■New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio heads to New Hampshire – including a stop in Concord – this weekend.

The trip by the two-term progressive mayor of America’s largest city follows a visit last month to Iowa. And last weekend, de Blasio traveled to South Carolina, the first Southern state to hold a primary.

Last month, the mayor told New York City reporters he’s not ruling out a run.

■Rep. Eric Swalwell of California has made multiple trips to the early voting states. He recently headlined “Politics and Eggs” event at Saint Anselm College, a must-stop in New Hampshire for White House hopefuls.

Swalwell, who’s hired staff in Iowa and is in the process of making hires in New Hampshire and South Carolina, told the Monitor earlier this year that “I see nothing but green lights so far.”

■Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, a U.S. Marine veteran who served four tours of duty in Iraq, is headed to New Hampshire this weekend and he’ll travel to Iowa later this month.

Moulton, who was one of the ring leaders of the faction of House Democrats who unsuccessfully tried to prevent Nancy Pelosi from returning to the speakership, has said he’s taking “a very hard look” at launching a presidential campaign.

■Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, who like Moulton was another leader of the anti-Pelosi House Democratic faction – has also been making the rounds in the early voting states.

Ryan, during a stop last month in New Hampshire, told the Monitor “I think you’ve got to make a decision soon, but I’m not feeling like we missed the opportunity.”

■Former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe, who steered the Democratic Party in the early 2000s and remains a friend and top adviser to both Bill and Hillary Clinton, has said he would decide on whether to launch a 2020 White House campaign by the end of March.

■Stacey Abrams, a rising star in the Democratic Party who narrowly lost November’s gubernatorial election in Georgia, said Monday it was possible she could seek her party’s presidential nomination next year.

The former Georgia House minority leader made her comments at the South by Southwest conference and festival in Austin, Texas.

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