It's Semi-Official: Lease Signing Confirms Hillary's Candidacy

It's Semi-Official: Lease Signing Confirms Hillary's Candidacy
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It didn’t come in a tweet or a Facebook post or an online video. Instead, Hillary Clinton’s surest sign yet that she is running for president came in a leasing agreement. 

Clinton’s representatives signed a lease for a campaign headquarters in downtown Brooklyn within the last two days, giving the former secretary of state until around April 15 to advise the Federal Election Commission of her candidacy, according to campaign finance laws.

Federal election law stipulates that a presidential candidate is by definition someone who raises or spends $5,000 or more on campaign activity.  After that threshold is crossed, he or she has 15 days to advise the FEC of that action in a formal statement of candidacy.

Clinton’s team has been eying 1 Pierrepont Plaza (located near -- yes -- Clinton Street in Brooklyn Heights) for use as campaign digs for some time now, but couldn’t sign a lease on space in the 659,000-square-foot building until she was ready to become a candidate by raising and spending money for her second White House bid.

In other words, the move this week confirms what the political world has long been speculating: She is running.

By mid-April, Clinton is expected to join Ted Cruz and over 200 others who have filed statements of their presidential candidacy with the FEC. 

On Wednesday, Clinton teased the opening of her soon-to-be headquarters while appearing at a local public school seven miles down the road in Brownsville—a predominantly African-American area. That event promoted child care and included Chirlane McCray, the wife of Bill de Blasio. The New York City mayor, who lives in Brooklyn and was sworn into office at his home there, was Clinton's Senate campaign manager in 2000. 

“All in good time,” Clinton said as she was getting up to leave and was asked if she would be back in Brooklyn soon. Before ducking into her black SUV with her staff, she gave a spirited wave to a handful of supportive bystanders across the street. 

The Democratic frontrunner’s decision to operate her campaign out of Brooklyn is intended to convey a sense of youth, hipness, and diversity as she works to reintroduce herself to the country and reenergize her brand with voters. One Pierrepont Plaza promotes itself as “Modern Offices. Brooklyn Cool.” The building is located within two blocks of the Brooklyn Bridge and is surrounded by various subway lines. A posh Equinox fitness center, Chipotle, Starbucks, and Shake Shack are all close by. 

The leasing agent on the property, who said he fielded at least 60 calls from reporters Friday morning, declined to comment to RCP about the terms of the lease. It is not clear what entity signed the rental agreement, which was first reported by Politico. 

The building is managed by a subsidiary of Forest City Ratner, which was founded by Bruce Ratner, part owner of the New York Nets and a big Democratic donor. 

The lease agreement is a welcome sign for campaign staffers who have been operating in volunteer mode, working out of Clinton’s personal offices in midtown Manhattan, and from coffee shops and friends’ living rooms.  

Clinton’s expected mid-April campaign launch could overlap with -- and possibly eclipse -- the planned April 13 campaign announcement in Miami by GOP Sen. Marco Rubio.

Clinton’s campaign manager and top aides have been in Iowa and New Hampshire this week, signaling that the candidate will soon be visiting the first two voting states.  

Clinton famously lost to Barack Obama in Iowa in 2008. With scant primary competition expected in 2016, Iowa offers the former secretary of state and former New York senator a new opening to rekindle alliances she and her husband first forged there in 1992, when Bill Clinton finished fourth in the Iowa Democratic contest.

Alexis Simendinger covers the White House for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at asimendinger@realclearpolitics.com.  Follow her on Twitter @ASimendinger.

Caitlin Huey-Burns is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at chueyburns@realclearpolitics.com. Follow her on Twitter @CHueyBurnsRCP.

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