Clinton, Sanders Campaigns Prepare For Very Competitive Massachusetts Primary
With less than two weeks before Massachusetts holds its presidential primaries, Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are ramping up their campaigns for what is shaping up to be a highly competitive contest.
The Clinton campaign plans to open six new campaign offices in Massachusetts this Saturday – three located in western Massachusetts. The offices in Springfield, Holyoke, and Pittsfield will be places where volunteers will make phone calls to woo potential primary voters, organize to go door-to-door through neighborhoods, and stand out on street corners with campaign signs.
"Organizing and getting out the vote in Holyoke, Springfield, and western Mass. in general is of utmost importance to the Clinton campaign," said Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse who said the announcement of the new offices demonstrates the Clinton campaign plans to compete hard for every vote.
The Springfield and Holyoke offices will organize canvasses through minority neighborhoods, where Clinton is counting on strong support. It is also clear Clinton needs to do much better with younger voters. Morse, 27, said he endorsed Clinton because he respects her experience.
" It is more than just having a plan, it is about executing the plan and getting it through Congress and Hillary is the only candidate that has the relationships and experience to make that happen," said Morse.
Coming off his landslide win in the New Hampshire primary, Sanders has momentum leading up to the March 1st primary in Massachusetts. A Public Policy Polling survey earlier this week had Sanders leading Clinton 49-42 percent in Massachusetts. Morse said the poll did not surprise him.
" I think the Clinton campaign always expected the primary would be competitive. I don't think they are taking any vote for granted." said Morse.
The Sanders campaign opened a field office in Springfield last month. There is also a campaign office in Greenfield. State Rep. Paul Mark, Massachusetts co-chair of the Sanders campaign, said there is an aggressive get-out-the-vote operation across the state.
" We've been firing on all cylinders for a while. We've been doing work in New Hampshire and as soon as that was over we switched to all hands on deck in Massachusetts. We've had five campaign offices open all over the state for quite a while, so we are not just starting to pay attention to Massachusetts," said Mark.
Mark is in the minority when it comes to Democratic officeholders in Massachusetts who have endorsed Sanders, but the same was true in New Hampshire, where the Sanders campaign overcame Clinton’s high-profile endorsements.
" We did more grassroots, and everyday volunteers. We'll do the same here in Massachusetts and I think, I hope it will have the same affect," said Mark.
Clinton won the Democratic presidential primary in Massachusetts in 2008, and her husband, former President Bill Clinton remains extremely popular in the state. But, Mark believes Sanders’ message is resonating strong with people and that will overcome the history the Clintons have with Massachusetts.
" Bernie is going to surprise a lot of people, " said Mark.
Massachusetts and Vermont are the only states in the Northeast with primaries on March 1st. Seven other states, all in the south, including Texas, Georgia, and Virginia vote that day. Given the competitiveness of the Democratic race, Massachusetts Secretary of State Bill Galvin said the state’s 116 convention delegates at stake in the primary could prove significant.
" I think the enthusiasm and interest will continue to ratchet up, and while I am not going to project an actual number yet, I an encouraged to believe we will have a good ( voter) turnout," said Galvin.
There are currently no plans for either Clinton or Sanders to campaign in Massachusetts between now and the primary. Sanders held two large rallies in western Massachusetts, in Springfield last fall and at UMass Amherst in January. Clinton held a campaign fundraiser in Holyoke last October.