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Progressives urge New Hampshire Dems to wait on endorsing Clinton

Progressives want to pressure Hillary Clinton and any other candidate to embrace a populist economic agenda.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at the Massachusetts Conference for Women in Boston, on Dec. 4, 2014.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at the Massachusetts Conference for Women in Boston, on Dec. 4, 2014.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC), which is closely aligned with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, has a hired an organizer to work full time in New Hampshire ahead of the state’s first-in-the-nation Democratic presidential primary in 2016.

But, with Warren unlikely to run for the White House, the group isn’t supporting any specific candidate. In fact, it’s hoping to convince Democrats and union leaders in the state not to support anyone for the moment, in order to build a non-aligned coalition that can pressure all candidates to adopt a populist economic agenda.

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Adam Green, the group’s co-founder, said the PCCC is telling New Hampshire Democrats to “keep your powder dry, don’t rush.”

It’s a clear, if unstated, response to the early strength of former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, who is far ahead in every poll of the Democratic 2016 field and already has an infrastructure of supporters and outside groups in place. Ready for Hillary, a super PAC supporting a potential Clinton candidacy, has had an organizer on the ground in New Hampshire since the spring.

But Green said his group’s effort should not be read as anti-Clinton. In fact, he suspects and hopes to attract some Granite State Democrats who are predisposed to supporting Hillary Clinton, but nonetheless see value in withholding an endorsement so as to pressure Clinton to adopt a bolder economic vision.

“There is power in coalition. If many others are rushing to endorse, it could be lonely to stand there and ask presidential candidates what they actually think about issues and if they’ll campaign on bold economic populist ideas,” Green explained. “But if many elected officials keep their powder dry together, then there’s a cogent strategy to press all presidential candidates.”

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That populist agenda includes expanding Social Security benefits, reforming Wall Street and making college more affordable.

The group’s newly hired New Hampshire organizer, Don Weigel, is already in the state and plans to lead meetings with every major Democratic and union leader in the state, as well as with progressive organizations, over the next three weeks before the holidays. Weigel has worked on campaigns and for progressive groups all over the country, including stints as the executive director of Colorado’s House Majority Project and as the executive director of the Georgia House Democratic Caucus.