Hillary Clinton appears to be planning to aggressively go after New Mexico’s Democratic Party delegates.
The frontrunner for the Democratic Party’s nomination became the first presidential candidate on Tuesday to announce that her campaign was hiring staff in New Mexico. Her campaign also said it would open offices “throughout the state in the coming weeks.”
Whether Clinton — who won several primaries on Tuesday — will visit New Mexico before the state’s June 7 primary is unknown.
The Clinton campaign has hired veteran political consultant Scott Forrester to serve as its campaign director in New Mexico. It also brought on Rich Thuma to serve as organizing director and Victor Reyes to be communications director for New Mexico. A news release announcing the hires stated that the campaign plans to “build a robust team of experienced community organizers who are committed to engaging the citizens of New Mexico across the state” in the coming weeks.
Clinton’s Democratic primary opponent, Bernie Sanders, has no formal campaign presence in New Mexico, but several grassroots group have been organizing in support of him in Las Cruces and other areas of the state. Las Cruces For Bernie recently opened its own office in the city.
The only public poll of the Democratic primary, a survey conducted in February for the Albuquerque Journal, found Clinton leading with the support of 47 percent of likely Democratic primary voters in the state to Sanders’ 33 percent.
Some 43 delegates to the Democratic National Convention are up for grabs in New Mexico. Nine are so-called superdelegates who can support whichever candidate they want — five have pledged support for Clinton — and the other 34 will be awarded proportionately based on the results of the June 7 vote.
On the Republican side, there’s been no formal activity in New Mexico, but the state has been a focus of the race in recent days because of the fragile alliance between Ted Cruz and John Kasich to try to stop Donald Trump. The deal had Kasich agreeing to leave the May 3 Indiana primary to Cruz. In exchange, Cruz agreed to not compete in Oregon, whose primary is May 17, and New Mexico.
Whether Kasich will open offices and hire staff in New Mexico remains to be seen. It’s not clear that the alliance will have much impact. Both candidates agreed to not publicly campaign in certain states but aren’t asking their supporters in those states to vote for the other.
Clinton’s staff has experience and knowledge of New Mexico. Forrester has most recently been working as a consultant for local and state campaigns in New Mexico. Before that he was executive director of the state’s Democratic Party.
Forrester also worked as the New Mexico political director for Clinton’s 2008 campaign for president.
Thuma has worked for Clinton across the country and has also worked for other Democratic politicians. Reyes works for the nonprofit ProgressNow New Mexico as its campaigns director and previously worked as political and legislative director for Conservation Voters New Mexico.
Reyes and Forrester didn’t immediately respond to an email asking whether Clinton might visit the state before the primary.