Nov 27, 2015 2:24 PM

Steinhauser: Clinton, Sanders, O'Malley back to NH on Sunday

NH1 Political Director -

CONCORD – Ray Buckley says he didn’t have a hard time getting the three Democratic presidential candidates to RSVP for Sunday evening’s state party fundraising dinner.

“I said here’s the date. It was that hard,” the New Hampshire Democratic Party chairman told NH1 News.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley will headline the state party’s annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner, which will be held at the Armory at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Manchester. The annual JJ dinner is the largest fundraising event each year for the NHDP.

“All three campaigns have been terrific in support of the party,” Buckley added, in a more serious note.

This is the second straight year a Clinton will be a main attraction at the event. Last year former President Bill Clinton gave the keynote address.

Buckley told NH1 News “we actually sold out three weeks ahead of time with the JJ this year. This will be the third JJ in a row that we’ve had over 1,100 people.”

Unlike Iowa’s JJ dinner, the candidates will not interact. They will each give separate remarks and are not expected to appear on the stage together.

While Clinton’s the front runner in national polls and in Iowa and South Carolina, which hold the first caucus and the first southern primary, in the first-in-the-nation primary state she’s neck and neck in the public opinion surveys with Sanders. O’Malley remains a distant third in polling.

But Buckley said Sunday’s dinner gives O’Malley another opportunity reach voters, but added there’s a twist.

“While he has to distinguish himself and create a narrative that will attract more and more support and I believe he can do that, he can’t go so overboard so as to off those who are already supporting the other candidates, so it is a very tricky situation he’s in,” Buckley said.

Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan will also speak at the dinner. Shaheen won a tough re-election battle last year. Next year Hassan is challenging GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte in what may end up being the most high profile Senate showdown in the country.

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