Feb 26, 2016 5:47 PM

Steinhauser: Sanders, Clinton, step up ground game in Massachusetts

NH1 News Political Director

BOSTON – With four days to go and the polls indicating the race is all tied up, the ground games of the Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders campaigns may be the deciding factor in which candidate wins the Massachusetts primary.

And both campaigns are stepping up their games.

“In the last week we’ve opened up seven offices,” Clinton campaign spokesman Harrell Kirstein told NH1 News.

“We have a pretty aggressive field operation that I think is going to bring it home on Tuesday,” said Sanders Massachusetts state director Paul Feeney.

Massachusetts is one of 11 states holding Democratic presidential nomination contests on Super Tuesday. Other than Texas, no other state has more Democratic delegates up for grabs on Tuesday. And an average the three most recent public opinion polls, all conducted in the past week and a half week, indicate Clinton and Sanders deadlocked at 46%.

Sander’s state headquarters is located in a modest two story office building in Cambridge. The offices were brimming with activity on Friday morning.

“We opened up at the end of last year. We really started staffing up in December. We opened up five field offices across the state including our headquarters right here in Boston. So we’re really in every corner of the Commonwealth. We’re making sure that no voter is left untouched,” Feeney told NH1 News.

With the first-in-the-nation primary in the rear view mirror, the Sanders campaign received re-enforcements from the Granite State.

“Obviously with New Hampshire a couple of weeks back, we’ve been able to get those staff members which is great because they’ve been trained, they’ve seen an election day, a successful election day. So they’ve come down to really buttress our staff here in Massachusetts. We have thousands of volunteers across the state that are engaged. And I think the best part about the operation we’re running here in Massachusetts is we’ve recruited over 200 town captains, people that really take ownership of the campaign in their own community and run it in their city or town. So that’s been a successful model for us and we’re going to carry it through this weekend and on election day,” Feeney said.

Sanders has performed extremely well with younger voters, and that’s a major plus in the Bay State.

“We have over 100 colleges and universities in the state. We’re running an aggressive program in all of those and the community colleges, people that vote locally. We had a voter registration program in each of those schools. We’ve identified school captains. They got them registered to vote. We’ve been in constant contact with them and then on Tuesday we’re really going to rely on them to get out, knock the doors in the dorm rooms, put them in vans and get them out to vote at their local polling place,” Feeney explained.

Feeney said that enthusiasm may give the Sanders campaign the winning edge.

“Normally you’re out there trying to recruit volunteers and it can be a task. This campaign, the Senator’s message is resonating with so many people, there have been thousands of volunteers that have just come out of the woodwork, many of them on the ground actually doing the work before the campaign even came to Massachusetts. So we’ve engaged with them, we’ve identified a lot of town captains, we’ve run a hyper local campaign,” he said.

The Clinton campaign’s main organizing office in Massachusetts, located along the harbor in Dorchester, was equally busy.

“We’ve kicked off dozens of canvasses in communities across the Bay State and we have hundreds of volunteers, really enthusiastic, going door to door, talking to their friends and neighbors about Hillary Clinton’s plan to build an economy that works for everybody, not just for the top,” explained Kirstein.

But Kirstein appeared to lower expectations, saying “we know we have an uphill climb here in Sen. Sanders backyard but Hillary Clinton started this campaign pledging to work hard for every vote and that’s what we’re going to do. She doesn’t quit and neither do we.”

And he touted a wide range of support “we have from our grassroots activists to our elected leaders like Mayor Walsh here in Boston. Just today we announced the endorsements of more than a dozen Massachusetts mayors. We have campus organizing teams operating on more than a dozen college and university campuses here in Massachusetts.”


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