Gil­li­brand is giv­ing sig­nals of join­ing ’20 pres­i­den­tial race

The Telegraph (Macon) - - News - BY ALEXAN­DER BURNS

Sen. Kirsten Gil­li­brand of New York has hired two se­nior com­mu­ni­ca­tions aides for an ex­pected pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, a sign that she is all but cer­tain to join the race against Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and that her en­try may be im­mi­nent.

Gil­li­brand has re­cruited Mered­ith Kelly, for­merly the top spokes­woman at the Demo­cratic Con­gres­sional Cam­paign Com­mit­tee, to serve as com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor for her prospec­tive 2020 cam­paign, two peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the de­ci­sion said. Kelly was part of the team at the House com­mit­tee that helped the party cap­ture the ma­jor­ity in 2018, over­see­ing the group’s me­dia strat­egy dur­ing the midterm elec­tions.

Emmy Bengston, the for­mer dig­i­tal direc­tor for Gov. Gavin New­som of Cal­i­for­nia in his 2018 race, has signed on as Kelly’s deputy. Bengston, who also worked on Hil­lary Clin­ton’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign in 2016, will lead Gil­li­brand’s dig­i­tal op­er­a­tion.

The hires are part of a flurry of ac­tiv­ity by Gil­li­brand in re­cent weeks as the 2020 cam­paign gets un­der­way. Politico re- ported Thurs­day night that she is pre­par­ing a trip to Iowa later this month and has been in touch with po­ten­tial cam­paign staff mem­bers there.

Glen Caplin, a spokesman for Gil­li­brand, de­clined to com­ment.

Tak­ing the step of ac­tu­ally re­tain­ing new staff – rather than merely con­duct­ing in­ter­views or plan­ning out staff re­cruit­ment – in­di­cates that Gil­li­brand is prob­a­bly in the very last stages of pre­par­ing for the 2020 race. Once politi­cians raise or spend more than $5,000 on their can­di­dacy, they have just 15 days to file pa­per­work form­ing a cam­paign with the Fed­eral Elec­tion Com­mis­sion.

Depend­ing on when she an­nounces her de­ci­sion, Gil­li­brand, 52, could be­come the sec­ond high­pro­file Demo­crat to join the race, after Sen. El­iz­a­beth War­ren of Mas­sachusetts. Gil­li­brand has sig­naled that she will run as a pro­gres­sive and has been an es­pe­cially force­ful ad­vo­cate within the party on mat­ters of gen­der equal­ity.

At least two other se­na­tors, Ka­mala Har­ris of Cal­i­for­nia and Cory Booker of New Jer­sey, are ex­pected to an­nounce in the com­ing weeks, join­ing a field that could grow to dozens. Joe Bi­den, the for­mer vice pres­i­dent, has also told as­so­ciates he in­tends to make a de­ci­sion this month and has been lean­ing to­ward run­ning.

Kirsten Gil­li­brand

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