MANCHESTER, NH — Thousands are expected at this weekend’s Democratic State Convention featuring 19 2020 presidential candidates vying for their party’s nomination.
“In just two days, New Hampshire’s Democrats will come together for what’s on track to be our largest event ever of either political party,” said Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley on Wednesday in a conference call with the media.
Buckley was a little coy when asked about the number of tickets sold and the number of people expected on Saturday at the SNHU Arena.
“I think you are going to see an amazing turnout,” Buckley said. “It certainly will be in the thousands.”
He said each candidate was given a code, all at the same time, to go in and buy tickets or have their supporters buy tickets.
“It was first-come, first-serve,” he said.
The only presidential candidate who has not responded is Wayne Martin Messam, an American former football player, businessman, and politician serving as the mayor of Miramar, Florida.
Each candidate will address the crowd for 7 to 10 minutes. Buckley said the line-up will be primarily alphabetical but that it is still being put together.
Candidates from up and down the Granite State ticket will also be on hand as will NH’s delegation — U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, U.S. Congresswoman Annie Kuster and U.S. Congressman Chris Pappas — as well as U.S. Executive Councilors and mayors, including Convention Chair Joyce Craig, Manchester’s mayor.
The convention is Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the downtown arena. Tickets will not be available at the door.
“This special day will remind Granite Staters how much is at stake in the 2020 election,” Buckley said.
The convention, he said, will crystalize the clear choice “between Democrats who will work for all Granite Staters and Republicans who have demonstrated that they only work for special interests, the top one percent and their donors at everyone else’s expense.”
NH Democrats are fired up and already have dozen of staffers on the ground, reaching out to voters and gearing up for the general election, Buckley said. The party has six offices across the state, not counting the “amazing” outreach and organizational work the presidential campaigns are building.
“In the last month alone, the New Hampshire Democratic Party reported 36 — yes 36 — times more cash on hand than the New Hampshire Republican Party,” Buckley said.
In the latest FEC report, NH Democrats raised $398,947 while NH Republicans raised $11,220.
While Donald Trump lost New Hampshire in 2016 by a few thousand votes, his prospects in the state have worsened dramatically, according to Buckley.
Democrats flipped both the NH House and Senate in 2016 and, “after broken promise after broken promise” Trump’s approval rating in NH has plummeted. Recent polls, he said, show 60 percent of Granite Staters disapprove of what Donald Trump is doing and he is 26 points underwater.
“This is a wide gap to recover from, and will be a huge hurdle to overcome especially for the understaffed and under-budgeted NH GOP,” Buckley said.
He said the attention-grabbing, first-in-the-nation presidential primary starts “us off with a grassroots advantage and will help us in the general” no matter who our presidential nominee will be.
“It’s basically a wide-scale dry run” for the get-out-the-vote campaign for the 2020 election, according to Buckley
Buckley took a swipe at Gov. Chris Sununu when he described what Granite State voters want to hear from candidates on Saturday. In recent weeks, he said, Granite Staters have witnessed the Republican governor selling out NH families to help his corporate special interests. He vetoed an increase in the minimum wage; he vetoed proposed gun safety legislation including background checks, and not only did he veto paid family leave legislation, but he also laughed about it and auctioned off a signed copy of his veto signature to benefit the NH Republican Party, Buckley said.
“On all of these issues, Granite Staters want leadership that has been so sorely lacking from the corner office,” Buckley said.
He said all of the Democratic presidential candidates have made those issues central to their campaigns. All of our Democratic candidates believe we need to put families and the middle class first instead of large corporations and the gun lobby.
Buckley said it was too early to say who the nominee will be. He pointed to the 1991 state convention when Bill Clinton was registering zero or one percent in the polls. He gave an inspirational address at that year’s state convention, came in second to Paul Tsongas and went on to defeat President George H.W. Bush in the general election.
The Democratic Party’s presidential nominee contenders attending Saturday’s event are:
- Michael Bennet
- Joe Biden
- Cory Booker
- Steve Bullock
- Pete Buttigieg
- Julian Castro
- Bill de Blasio
- John Delaney
- Tulsi Gabbard
- Kamala Harris
- Amy Klobuchar
- Beto O’Rourke
- Tim Ryan
- Bernie Sanders
- Joe Sestak
- Tom Steyer
- Elizabeth Warren
- Marianne Williamson
- Andrew Yang