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."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 587049

Reported Deaths: 9287
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion810691296
Lake44121665
Allen31797541
Hamilton28178303
St. Joseph26684369
Elkhart24057340
Vanderburgh18519213
Tippecanoe17305121
Johnson14398284
Porter14342159
Hendricks13793241
Madison10509212
Vigo10432171
Clark10151129
Monroe9029108
Delaware8782129
LaPorte8721153
Kosciusko784677
Howard7834137
Warrick636790
Hancock633297
Bartholomew624294
Floyd6098105
Wayne5903156
Grant5799109
Dubois541670
Boone531467
Morgan512388
Marshall492484
Henry491164
Cass469060
Noble458757
Dearborn454544
Jackson413145
Shelby401178
Lawrence379475
Clinton363639
Gibson355056
DeKalb336363
Montgomery333851
Harrison326042
Knox325439
Miami308243
Steuben304940
Adams294435
Whitley292325
Wabash291645
Ripley290845
Putnam282447
Huntington281257
Jasper280733
White265738
Daviess260772
Jefferson248538
Fayette241348
Decatur241282
Greene232460
Posey230026
Wells228547
LaGrange223461
Clay216432
Scott216437
Randolph207540
Jennings191335
Sullivan188531
Spencer179917
Fountain178625
Washington175018
Starke170741
Jay162021
Fulton158829
Owen157837
Carroll151315
Orange150533
Rush148118
Perry145327
Vermillion144333
Franklin142533
Parke12788
Tipton127332
Pike113125
Blackford107022
Pulaski94637
Newton89020
Brown85530
Benton84110
Crawford7479
Martin69213
Warren6537
Switzerland6175
Union6063
Ohio4647
Unassigned0374

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 821507

Reported Deaths: 10135
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin96935704
Cuyahoga81526972
Hamilton60913438
Montgomery41445399
Summit33096726
Lucas29981591
Butler29513227
Stark24608400
Warren18792139
Lorain17916207
Mahoning16710335
Lake15255135
Clermont15053104
Delaware1374277
Licking12595132
Trumbull12352301
Fairfield1211380
Greene11532132
Medina11033165
Clark10557264
Wood9901154
Allen9481126
Portage8802105
Miami880173
Richland8748116
Marion7305113
Tuscarawas7095174
Columbiana7047124
Pickaway699850
Wayne6729162
Muskingum665342
Erie5866117
Hancock537090
Ross526087
Scioto514862
Geauga478255
Darke456089
Ashtabula437268
Union429228
Lawrence428951
Mercer423387
Sandusky419062
Seneca411755
Auglaize410959
Huron409138
Shelby408521
Jefferson400466
Belmont392840
Washington367940
Putnam363672
Athens36229
Madison337928
Knox334922
Ashland329138
Fulton324243
Defiance317078
Crawford311968
Preble310034
Brown294419
Logan291829
Ottawa280534
Clinton278143
Williams268966
Highland261318
Jackson255243
Guernsey239425
Champaign239227
Fayette224529
Morrow22194
Perry220517
Holmes217562
Henry208847
Hardin203032
Coshocton197120
Van Wert196244
Wyandot189949
Gallia189126
Adams165515
Pike163416
Hocking161923
Carroll148016
Paulding139021
Noble117540
Meigs102421
Monroe95227
Harrison8578
Morgan78227
Vinton65613
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Cloudy
30° wxIcon
Hi: 34° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 21°
Angola
Cloudy
28° wxIcon
Hi: 33° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 22°
Huntington
Cloudy
28° wxIcon
Hi: 33° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 20°
Fort Wayne
Cloudy
30° wxIcon
Hi: 33° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 21°
Lima
Cloudy
30° wxIcon
Hi: 34° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 21°
Seasonal Monday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events