Liberal grass roots gather to find a challenger for Hillary Clinton
© Greg Nash

Liberal groups are building a grassroots army in Iowa and New Hampshire in hopes of stopping a Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonFederal judge kills recount effort in Michigan Keith Ellison is the leader the DNC needs Overnight Cybersecurity: Retired general picked to head DHS | Graham vows to probe Russian election interference MORE coronation in 2016.

While the progressive groups don’t have a candidate, they are hiring organizers and opening offices as if one will emerge.

ADVERTISEMENT
At a minimum, the groups hope their efforts will push Clinton to the left. And if the political winds blow just right, the activists hope Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) will take the plunge — and turn their organizing work into the foundation for her candidacy.

Officials form Democracy For America, a liberal group, are getting involved in local-level politics by endorsing state House and Senate candidates in Iowa and New Hampshire in an effort to flip the states’ legislatures — and build momentum for 2016.

“[It’ll] send all politicians with 2016 ambitions a powerful message,” said DFA chairman Jim Dean.

“This is a preview, in a way, for coming attractions in 2016,” added DFA spokesman Neil Sroka.

This is the first year DFA has included Iowa and New Hampshire as part of its Purple to Blue Project, which began in 2013 and aims to flip legislature seats in “purple” states to Democratic control.

Ready For Warren, a group that is trying to draft Warren to run for president, is planning to open field offices in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, three early-contest states crucial to the primary process, said Erica Sagrans, the group’s campaign manager.

It comes as the group announced it is staffing up in those same states by hiring state coordinators, charged with building volunteer teams and handling local media requests.

“They’ll be our point people on the ground,” Sagrans said. “There’s a huge desire out there for an alternative progressive candidate. Democrats want there to be a choice in the primaries.”

Longer term, Sagrans said the group is looking to make inroads at universities.

Warren, for her part, has insisted that she’s not running for president. And Clinton maintains a dominant lead in early 2016 polling, even without having officially declared herself a candidate.

But liberals are wary of Clinton’s economic policies, fearful that she’s sided too much with Wall Street on economic issues paramount to the Democratic base. Still, Clinton’s supporters have also looked to organize.

Groups like Ready For Hillary have trailed Clinton at her recent paid speeches signing up volunteers should she decide to run.

Other liberal groups are taking a similar path. DFA’s Sroka said DFA already has 10,000 volunteers in Iowa and 15,000 in New Hampshire. Meanwhile, the liberal Progressive Change Campaign Committee has been working for months in New Hampshire.

They hosted a training session in November 2013 to make inroads for 2014 and 2016.

“We will be organizing in Iowa and New Hampshire to ensure every presidential candidate is asked to take a stand on the economic issues that matter most to Americans, including taking on Wall Street, expanding Social Security benefits and passing Elizabeth Warren’s plan to reduce student loan debt,” said PCCC spokeswoman Laura Friedenbach.

PCCC activists were one of the dominant forces behind Warren’s 2012 Senate victory over then-Sen. Scott Brown, logging 574,000 telephone calls for Warren. That infrastructure is in full swing now — with PCCC volunteers having already logged more than one million get-out-the vote calls for progressive candidates.

“Part of the reason why we’re focusing on electing Warren-wing champions to the state house is that those voices have a powerful role in helping select who is the presidential nominee for the Democratic Party,” Sroka said.