Election 2020 Cory Booker (copy)

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker takes a selfie following a town hall in Charleston on March 2, 2019. File/Meg Kinnard/AP

COLUMBIA — Ahead of a busy weekend for South Carolina's Democratic presidential primary race, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker is expanding his campaign team in the Palmetto State.

The New Jersey Democrat has hired four more staffers, including Laurin Manning Gandy, who was director of political operations for Barack Obama's victory in South Carolina's 2008 Democratic primary. Gandy will be Booker's S.C. digital director.

The other new hires include:

  • Deputy state director Anna Gilbert, a data and analytics consultant who was a regional field director in Ohio for Obama's 2012 reelection campaign.
  • Organizing director Matt Handsfield, an Atlanta native who most recently was deputy field director for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party.
  • Director of operations Elena Kershaw, who previously worked for the S.C. Democratic Party and was a 2015 organizer for Bernie Sanders' campaign.

They join senior political adviser Clay Middleton, who led Hillary Clinton's 2016 primary campaign in South Carolina, and state director Christale Spain, who was S.C. Democratic Party executive director and worked on Bernie Sanders' 2016 campaign. 

Both Middleton and Spain were hired in February, shortly after Booker launched his campaign. Booker has also tapped longtime Greenville radio personality Rhonda Rawlings as his S.C. communications director.

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Booker has held more events in South Carolina than any other candidate in the race so far, but he still is trying to translate that into a groundswell of support in a hyper-crowded primary field.

He will return to the state this weekend, along with 21 other candidates, for the S.C. Democratic Party convention and U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn's fish fry.

Follow Jamie Lovegrove on Twitter @jslovegrove.

Jamie Lovegrove is a political reporter covering the South Carolina Statehouse, congressional delegation and campaigns. He previously covered Texas politics in Washington for The Dallas Morning News and in Austin for the Texas Tribune.

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