Cory Booker's campaign begins to take shape as he closes in on 2020 decision

As Sen. Cory Booker nears a public decision on whether he will run for president in 2020, the machinery of h...

Posted: Jan 4, 2019 6:35 PM
Updated: Jan 4, 2019 6:35 PM

As Sen. Cory Booker nears a public decision on whether he will run for president in 2020, the machinery of his would-be campaign is shifting into a new gear: ready for launch.

Several potential Democratic candidates are expected to announce their candidacy in the early half of this year, and Booker's allies are now working to put the final pieces in place to ensure that, when he gives the signal, a campaign framework would be ready and waiting.

Continents and regions

Cory Booker

Elections and campaigns

Government and public administration

Iowa

Midwestern United States

New Hampshire

North America

Northeastern United States

Political candidates

Political Figures - US

Political organizations

Politics

The Americas

United States

US Democratic Party

US political parties

The campaign would likely be based out of Newark, where Booker served as mayor, a source familiar with his thinking tells CNN. The campaign would be centered on the message of unity and love -- themes Booker has made a central part of his political profile.

The New Jersey senator and his chief of staff, Matt Klapper, have narrowed their search for a campaign manager following months of interviews, a source familiar with the discussions told CNN. Among the leading candidates is Addisu Demissie, who oversaw Booker's 2013 Senate bid and most recently steered California Gov. Gavin Newsom's campaign. Demissie was formerly national political director for President Barack Obama's OFA.

Klapper, who has worked with Booker for nearly two decades, dating back to the Newark City Council, is also widely expected to take on a senior role in the would-be campaign.

Meanwhile, Booker's team is also zeroing in on senior staff to lead their early primary state efforts, with discussions ongoing among would-be hires in Iowa and New Hampshire. One person in the mix for a senior Iowa role, multiple sources tell CNN, is Michael Frosolone -- a well-regarded Democratic operative who in 2018 oversaw the party's statehouse campaign operations, helping to flip seven seats.

"If I were a young staff type, operative type, I would find this campaign enormously attractive," said Jerry Crawford, a veteran Iowa Democratic activist who is currently neutral, but has counseled Booker and other would-be candidates. "This one has the look and feel to me of a potential winner."

Although Booker has not yet announced that he will run for president, he has been candid for months about his interest. "Of course the presidency will be something I consider," he told New York Magazine in September. "It would be irresponsible not to."

He said he would chew on the decision over the holidays -- and now that the calendar has turned to 2019, Booker's allies expect an announcement could come within weeks. But Booker's team has already been laying the groundwork for a potential campaign for months.

Their efforts have included extensive outreach in key states like Iowa and New Hampshire, where they have offered assistance with fundraising and staffing to candidates up and down the ballot -- building relationships that could pay dividends as they staff up and pursue endorsements.

Booker "actually cared," said one Iowa campaign operative who worked with the senator and his team during the midterms. "With the others (likely candidates), it seemed like a constant chess game. Everything felt very disingenuous."

Booker's first swing through Iowa in October, following his aggressive questioning of Brett Kavanaugh during the Senate confirmation hearings, helped raise his profile among influential activists and served as a look for would-be supporters and staffers at what a candidate Booker would be like.

"Booker's people don't need to make a pitch (to potential hires), because he's been to Iowa, and he had one of the best first trips in the history of presidential politics," said Crawford.

Their legwork on the ground thus far has set Booker's operation apart from many of the expected top tier of candidates. During Booker's recent visit to New Hampshire, the state Democratic Party Chairman praised him as "the best friend New Hampshire Democrats had in 2018."

"Booker is the farthest along," assessed one Iowa Democratic strategist not aligned with any 2020 campaign.

But other Democrats are quickly ramping up their efforts. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who last week announced an exploratory committee for president, made four big Iowa staff hires in advance of her first visit to the Hawkeye State this weekend.

Jim Demers, a longtime New Hampshire Democratic operative who was among Obama's earliest Granite State supporters, and is now backing Booker, says he believes Booker's team is clear-eyed about the challenges they would face in a crowded Democratic field.

"I certainly get the feeling that they understand that, at least in the beginning, that there are two or three or maybe four candidates polling higher, with higher name recognition," said Demers, "but I think they recognize that this is a marathon, not a sprint."

At this stage, Demers added, "There's nothing that makes me think he wouldn't run."

West Lafayette
Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 15°
Feels Like: 18°
Kokomo
Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 36° Lo: 15°
Feels Like: 16°
Rensselaer
Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 25° Lo: 12°
Feels Like: 18°
Fowler
Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 35° Lo: 13°
Feels Like: 18°
Williamsport
Cloudy
26° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 14°
Feels Like: 17°
Crawfordsville
Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 15°
Feels Like: 17°
Frankfort
Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 14°
Feels Like: 17°
Delphi
Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 36° Lo: 15°
Feels Like: 18°
Monticello
Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 35° Lo: 16°
Feels Like: 18°
Logansport
Cloudy
27° wxIcon
Hi: 35° Lo: 15°
Feels Like: 18°
Some pockets of light snow then big warm-up...
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1130719

Reported Deaths: 17736
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1468762242
Lake732391255
Allen68004883
Hamilton51739488
St. Joseph50459650
Elkhart40619547
Vanderburgh34963497
Tippecanoe31212276
Johnson27963467
Hendricks26585385
Porter25969387
Madison21318457
Clark20392279
Vigo19244309
LaPorte17405261
Delaware17004303
Howard16942315
Monroe16794220
Kosciusko14447167
Hancock13259186
Bartholomew13180191
Warrick12320190
Wayne12200269
Grant12181247
Floyd12096226
Morgan10552192
Boone9966124
Noble9429123
Marshall9295147
Henry9268169
Dearborn9053100
Dubois8877140
Shelby8402130
Cass8241128
Lawrence8134185
DeKalb7933109
Jackson779993
Huntington7761116
Montgomery7213123
Gibson7179118
Harrison7031100
Knox6958116
Steuben676589
Miami6675114
Whitley667260
Putnam651286
Clinton633179
Wabash6323111
Jasper622192
Jefferson5946105
Ripley565994
Adams547981
Daviess5124118
Scott498980
Wells4894106
White486069
Greene4749101
Clay468662
Decatur4659110
Fayette462597
Jennings457167
LaGrange432291
Posey412944
Randolph4010107
Washington393656
Fountain382264
Fulton368374
Spencer365147
Starke361474
Owen358577
Sullivan351155
Jay336450
Orange335272
Rush314833
Carroll301639
Franklin295244
Perry292853
Vermillion285958
Tipton253367
Parke251630
Pike251244
Blackford224944
Pulaski213759
Newton185052
Brown179750
Benton171717
Crawford170729
Martin152619
Switzerland149412
Warren137816
Union125116
Ohio92913
Unassigned0599

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events