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 5:35 PM
Updated: Jan 4, 2019 5:35 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."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 312608

Reported Deaths: 7221
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21429257
Hinds20256414
Harrison17776308
Rankin13539278
Jackson13395246
Madison10051217
Lee9956173
Jones8364163
Forrest7633152
Lauderdale7215240
Lowndes6359144
Lamar620286
Lafayette6162118
Washington5320133
Bolivar4796132
Oktibbeha460398
Panola4545104
Pearl River4495145
Marshall4387103
Warren4368120
Pontotoc419372
Monroe4089133
Union408776
Neshoba4028176
Lincoln3939110
Hancock376686
Leflore3484125
Sunflower335290
Tate331684
Pike3290105
Scott314873
Alcorn310768
Yazoo310269
Itawamba299377
Copiah295865
Coahoma293979
Simpson293788
Tippah287268
Prentiss278560
Marion268680
Leake264973
Wayne262241
Grenada259985
Adams259882
Covington256281
Newton246961
George246748
Winston226981
Tishomingo225067
Jasper220748
Attala214273
Chickasaw207057
Holmes188672
Clay184654
Stone181433
Clarke178179
Tallahatchie177840
Calhoun169532
Yalobusha162936
Smith162034
Walthall133745
Greene130233
Lawrence128223
Noxubee126834
Montgomery126742
Perry126038
Amite123442
Carroll121628
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis106932
Tunica104626
Claiborne102130
Benton99025
Humphreys96133
Kemper95628
Franklin83323
Quitman79616
Choctaw75818
Wilkinson66830
Jefferson65428
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 528784

Reported Deaths: 10913
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson762251516
Mobile40864804
Madison34569501
Tuscaloosa25646451
Montgomery24264585
Shelby23355246
Baldwin20993306
Lee15800168
Calhoun14457312
Morgan14250279
Etowah13796352
Marshall12166222
Houston10506280
Elmore10017205
Limestone9935150
Cullman9617193
St. Clair9584237
Lauderdale9397238
DeKalb8813185
Talladega8183175
Walker7205279
Autauga6910107
Jackson6793110
Blount6621135
Colbert6282134
Coffee5491115
Dale4810111
Russell437938
Chilton4244111
Franklin423882
Covington4105117
Tallapoosa4004150
Escambia392675
Chambers3545123
Dallas3536150
Clarke350360
Marion3092100
Pike309177
Lawrence299698
Winston273572
Bibb259763
Marengo248564
Geneva247075
Pickens233559
Barbour230256
Hale221776
Butler215469
Fayette211962
Henry188544
Cherokee183845
Randolph179241
Monroe176240
Washington166839
Macon158649
Clay153356
Crenshaw151657
Cleburne148341
Lamar141234
Lowndes138453
Wilcox126528
Bullock122941
Conecuh110028
Perry107526
Coosa106828
Sumter104132
Greene92234
Choctaw60324
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 73°
Columbus
Partly Cloudy
74° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 74°
Oxford
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 70°
Starkville
Partly Cloudy
70° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 70°
A little bit of disturbed air moves through our area on Thursday evening. This could give us a few scattered showers. Beyond that small chance, things look good in the weather forecast through our Saturday.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather