NEWARK – Several high-ranking figures in the 2016 presidential campaign of Democrat Hillary Clinton descended on downtown Newark on Thursday night to begin laying out their plan of attack before a room packed with New Jersey Democratic power players, according to a high-level Democratic source who was in the room.
“[Hillary for America national chairman] John Podesta wanted to lay out the strategy for the primaries to earn the nomination, yet the meeting still had a large fundraising component,” said the source, who noted that Hillary for America national political director Amanda Renteria and Dennis Cheng, Hillary for America’s national finance director, were also in attendance. “It takes a lot for that type of crowd in New Jersey to get excited, and this did it.”
The meeting, which took place at the Newark Club and which was the first of many to come, was packed with a plethora of players in Garden State Democratic circles.
New Jersey Democratic State Committee Chairman John Currie and Vice-Chair Lizette Delgado-Polanco were singled out during Podesta’s speech.
Podesta addressed a small crowd that included former U.S. Ambassador to Germany Phil Murphy; Democratic donor, fundraiser and Clinton confidant John F.X. Graham; reported New Jersey Fifth Congressional District candidate and former Clinton speechwriter Josh Gottheimer; MWW CEO Michael Kempner; fundraiser and consultant Kay LiCausi, lobbyist and fundraiser Kelly Stewart Maer; prominent Mercer County attorney Grace Strom Power; Karen Kominsky, Clinton’s 2008 campaign New Jersey state campaign director; NJDSC political director Jennifer Holdsworth; Amiri “Middy” Baraka, Jr., Newark Mayor Ras Baraka’s brother and chief of staff; Tai Cooper, Mayor Baraka’s chief policy advisor; Mo Butler, New Jersey chief of staff for U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.); Sarah Jones, district for U.S. Rep. Donald Payne, Jr. (D-10); Jason Solowsky, an operative for Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop; fundraiser Samantha Maltzman; prominent Somerset County Democrat Dr. Zenon Christodoulou and lobbyist Chrissy Buteas.
Elected officials in the room included state Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-37), state Senator Teresa Ruiz (D-29), state Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin (D-29) and state Assemblyman Jamel Holley (D-20).
Anne Sciano, the New Jersey finance director for the Hillary for America campaign, played a key role in “getting everybody into the room,” the source said.
“The point of the presentation was this is a brand-new, grass-roots campaign like you’ve never seen before,” the source added. “This is not the Hillary of old.”