U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-NJ, speaks during a news conference outside of his home, Friday, Feb. 1, 2019, in Newark, N.J. Booker earlier in the day declared his bid for the presidency with a sweeping call to unite a deeply polarized nation around a “common purpose.” (Julio Cortez/Associated Press)

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Democratic U.S. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey has hired two veteran political operatives to head up his presidential campaign efforts in the critical early-voting state of South Carolina.

Booker announced Monday that Christale Spain would serve as his state director. Spain worked in political outreach for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 bid and has served as executive director of South Carolina’s Democratic Party.

Clay Middleton has been hired as Booker’s senior political adviser. The longtime aide to House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn was Hillary Clinton’s 2016 state director and worked in the Obama administration.

Booker plans to return to South Carolina next Sunday. That overlaps with at least one other presidential hopeful, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (KEER’-sten JIHL’-uh-brand) of New York, who’s making her first trip to the state around that time.

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