Top Clinton campaign official promises to expand electoral map
© Greg Nash
CHICAGO — Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonLewandowski on potential NH Senate run: If I run, 'I'm going to win' Fighter pilot vs. astronaut match-up in Arizona could determine control of Senate Progressive Democrats' turnout plans simply don't add up MORE's presidential campaign is investing in states that have not voted for a Democratic candidate for a generation, part of a national effort to bolster other Democrats who will share November's ballot, a senior Clinton campaign official said Thursday.
 
Speaking to a group of Democratic state legislators at an annual conference in Chicago, Amanda Renteria, Clinton's political director, said the campaign is targeting what it calls "expansion states."
 
"We call them expansion states for a reason: Because we believe we can expand the map, and we believe we can expand Democratic voices down the ballot as well," Renteria said.
 
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Renteria singled out Georgia, Arizona, Utah and an Omaha congressional district where the campaign hopes to pick up a single electoral vote. 
 
The campaign has already begun staffing up in those states. Clinton visited Omaha last month, just after formally accepting the Democratic nomination. The campaign has hired top staffers in Georgia and Arizona and is preparing to open offices.
 
In Utah this week, Clinton penned an op-ed for the Deseret News, a major newspaper owned by the Mormon Church, spurring chatter that discomfort among many Utah Republicans for the party's nominee, Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpPossible GOP challenger says Trump doesn't doesn't deserve reelection, but would vote for him over Democrat O'Rourke: Trump driving global, U.S. economy into recession Manchin: Trump has 'golden opportunity' on gun reforms MORE, could give Democrats an opening.
 
"It's good to see we're talking about Utah on Hannity," Renteria told legislators.
 
In an interview, Renteria was cautious about the prospects of putting Utah's six electoral votes in play.
 
"I don't know," she said, when asked whether Clinton's hopes of winning Utah were realistic. "It's harder. I was just asking a lot more questions about the actual data. We've got to dive into the data because you've got so many independents there. Unaffiliateds, I guess, is really the right word. Who are they? What do they look like? Will they vote for us, or just not vote at all?"
 
Renteria said the campaign's focus is driven, in part, by other Democratic efforts to reclaim House, Senate and state legislative seats.
 
"Especially when you think about overlapping Senate seats or major races that folks are investing in, there's a real opportunity, especially since we are coordinating efforts," Renteria told The Hill. "That has really helped us think through where can we invest and really make a difference, not only in the presidential, but really what the seats look like in the House, the Senate."
 
North Carolina, another state where Democrats hope to retake a Senate seat, does not fall within the campaign's definition of expansion states. The Tarheel State, Renteria said, is firmly in the battleground category, where the Clinton campaign will place its highest priorities.
 
Renteria, a former Capitol Hill chief of staff, said the campaign is working to register 3 million new voters, beginning a few weeks ago during the Republican National Convention. She said the campaign plans to keep organizers in close touch with those voters, in order to encourage them to cast their ballots as early as possible.
 
"Our entire plan is to make sure we do everything we can to bank those votes," Renteria said. "If we can get our early votes banked in as early as possible, that allows us to focus on places like Virginia, where it's all Election Day voters."
 
"We believe that's how you not only win the presidency, but races down ticket as well."
 
Clinton's campaign has already made a show of working with other Democratic candidates.
 
Even before she was formally nominated, the former secretary of State was operating 18 offices in coordination with the Pennsylvania Democratic Party and Senate nominee Katie McGinty; she shares a campaign headquarters with former Sen. Russ Feingold's (D) campaign in Wisconsin; and she's coordinated offices in Asheville, Greenville, Greensboro and Raleigh, North Carolina.