The New Jersey campaign for Beto O’Rourke, the former Texas congressman who announced today that he will seek the Democratic presidential nomination, will be organized by veteran state operatives Michael Beson and Justin Shoham.
They plan a kickoff meeting in New Brunswick and are urging O’Rourke supporters to attend.
Cory Booker has won the near-unanimous support of his home state in his presidential bid. O’Rourke is the only other candidate so far with a presence in New Jersey, although Jersey City mayor Steve Fulop is showing some interest in South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders has a campaign infrastructure in New Jersey from his 2016 bid.
Beson played a similar role in 2002 when he was state director for former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean’s presidential bid.
For a while, Beson was Dean’s lone New Jersey backer, but by 2003, Dean had gone from low single digits to front-runner status and had the endorsements of Gov. James E. McGreevey, Reps. Frank Pallone and Rush Holt, and fourteen Democratic county chairs.
“No better organizer than Mike Beson,” said former U.S. Senator Bob Torricelli. “At least Beto knows talent.”
Shoham, a former chief of staff to Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-Jersey City), now runs Enigma Political Consulting.
“Beto has the best chance of defeating Donald Trump and that reason alone is enough to appreciate his candidacy,” said Shoham. “But in addition to his electability, Congressman O’Rourke exemplifies the type of authenticity, character, and demeanor to be an advocate for progressives, while also providing just the kind of political antidote needed to fix the nation’s poisoned rhetoric.”
Beson and Shoham will serve on O’Rourke’s national finance committee.
“New Jersey votes in June 2020, and while that’s five months after the Iowa Caucuses, New Jersey brings with it enthusiasm for Beto O’Rourke, both in terms of fundraising and grassroots energy to help nearby states that vote earlier,” says Beson, a former mayor of Neptune and now the Ocean Township Democratic municipal chairman.