Elizabeth Warren says she’s still weighing whether to run for president, but her team is getting the jump on figuring out where to put a possible 2020 campaign headquarters, quietly scouting for space in the Boston area.
Which begs the question, just where in the city would Warren set up shop, should she decide to take the plunge? Would she stay away from, say, her local neighborhood of Cambridge to avoid reinforcing her Harvard pedigree? Or would she pick, maybe, Hyde Park, to amp up her appeal to the working class voter?
Nope. As with all things real estate, it’s location, location, location — so long as it’s cheap, according to campaign veterans.
“There’s a lot less symbolism and a lot more practical logistics involved in siting something like this,” said Democratic consultant Dan Cence.
A Warren spokeswoman declined to comment for this story.
Let’s persist in speculating, then. For starters, that certainly means somewhere close to the airport so the candidate — as well as donors, surrogates, and staff — can get in and out of town easily.
In Boston, Warren’s team is likely eyeing somewhere in East Boston or in the Seaport or South Boston near the Ted Williams tunnel, one politico unaffiliated with the campaign mused.
You also want easy access to New Hampshire, the all-important first in the nation primary state. So close to I-93 is key.
But you’re shopping on a decidedly beer budget, not champagne.
“Rarely is campaign office space nice. You’re looking for something that’s cheap, affordable and shows your donors you’re being fiscally responsible with their money,” said Ryan Williams, a veteran of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s two presidential runs. A bright, shiny new building would lead donors to ask questions about how their money is being spent, he said.
Through a stroke of luck, Romney used the same space for both his campaigns — a gray-and-tan former furniture store overlooking the waterfront on the tip of the North End. They got the space, 585 Commercial Street, cheap the first time around because it was slated to be razed for a new condo development, Ryan recalled. Four years later, the developer had abandoned the plan in the face of neighborhood resistance so they were able to move back in. The building is now a school.
One problem Team Warren must grapple with: Commercial real estate in Boston is a lot pricier than the last time Romney ran for president. They’ll be competing with the likes of Apple, Google, Facebook and others expanding here.
How much office space are they looking for? Romney had 42,000 square feet. Hillary Clinton leased two floors of a 19-story building in Brooklyn, for a total of more than 80,000 square feet of space — though her campaign had a reputation for being a bit bloated. Former president Barack Obama rented 50,000 square feet in Chicago for his re-election bid — a space that was nicer and bigger than his 2008 headquarters, according to Politico.
Obama’s choice of Chicago underscored another cardinal rule of presidential campaign real estate. It’s a bad idea to settle in Washington, even if you are in the White House.
“More reporters, more loose lips in Washington bars,” said Williams. “You put your office in the swamp it can cause problems for your campaign.”