Elizabeth Warren doesn’t do big donor calls and events as a primary candidate, and now she says she won’t do them if she’s the party’s nominee either. From CNBC:
Sen. Elizabeth Warren pushes her pledge to have her presidential campaign avoid big money a step further this week, committing to avoid pricey fundraisers even if she is elected the Democratic nominee.
She has not previously said she would avoid big-dollar fundraisers during the general election if made the nominee.
Critics of her decision say the move could end up hurting the Democratic Party’s chances in the presidential campaign and other races down the ballot.
Here’s one of those critics, who served as PBO’s national finance director:
And the Democratic Party just went bankrupt….
This is a colossally stupid decision not just for Democratic chances to win back the White House but for all Democrats up and down the ticket if she sticks to it. https://t.co/V52Z4881S6
— Rufus Gifford (@rufusgifford) October 9, 2019
Warren’s campaign clarified the candidate’s position on DNC and down-ticket fundraising (HuffPo):
In a statement, Warren’s communications director, Kristen Orthman, said that the candidate would continue to attend fundraisers for the Democratic National Committee, state and local parties, and other Democratic candidates, and that those fundraisers would be open to the press. She also said that Warren — like almost every other Democratic candidate for president — would continue to turn down donations from federal lobbyists and political action committees.
“No special access or call time with rich donors or big dollar fundraisers to underwrite our campaign. Our campaign is and will continue to be a grassroots campaign ― funded by working people chipping in a few bucks here and there,” Orthman wrote. “As we have said from the beginning and has been our practice throughout the primary, Elizabeth will also continue to do everything she can to build our party infrastructure and strengthen Democratic candidates up and down the ballot.”
CNBC notes that in an interview with Chris Hayes a while back, Warren said she didn’t believe in “unilateral disarmament,” which seemed to indicate she was open to big donor fundraising in the general election if she became the nominee. That’s been the conventional wisdom within the party for ages. So, what changed?
This is just pure speculation on my part, obviously, but maybe Sanders is going to drop out and endorse Warren, and a no big donors pledge is a condition of that endorsement. And maybe Warren is willing to accept that condition because she believes she can win without big donor events. It wouldn’t be a crazy notion, considering how well she’s done in the primary so far — and considering how massively underfunded Trump was compared to Clinton in 2016.
It’s a gamble. But then again, so was forgoing high dollar donors for the primary campaign, when people told Warren that was crazy talk and she got dragged in the media for it. A representative piece from an April 1 Vanity Fair article:
[M]oney is no longer just a theoretical concern for Warren—and it’s triggering some serious turmoil within her campaign. According to The New York Times, Warren’s financial director, Michael Pratt, “strenuously objected” to her decision to renounce big-money donors, warning that closing the door to bundlers would cut Warren off from networking opportunities and hamstring her ability to remain financially solvent for the next 11 months. When Warren went against his advice, he resigned.
Instead, Warren took the advice of Dan Geldon and Joe Rospars, two of her closest advisers. Per the Times, the thinking was that any hit to Warren’s fund-raising would be made up by the goodwill she would cultivate with voters, and the newly empty slots in her schedule that would allow her to canvass more states and hold more rallies. For Warren to take advantage of either outcome, however, she needs a broad, active, and loyal base—an attribute that, at this point in the campaign, she does not have. (Warren is polling around 5 percent in recent surveys of the Democratic field.)
Oh what a difference six months makes. Now Warren does have a donor base — and the lead in the Democratic Party primary.
I’m a Warren supporter, and I get why she’s doing this — money poisons politics and has a toxic effect even on people who are basically good and non-corrupt, IMO. But I’ve been told all my life that a candidate can’t win unless she’s willing to do the $50K-per-plate events, and I honestly don’t know if that’s true or not. Maybe we’ll get an opportunity to test that theory.
It’s a dream scenario if you believe in your heart that this country is rapidly devolving into an oligarchy and that only “big, structural change” of the type Warren advocates can save it. And it’s a dream match-up to have a whip-smart, long-term consumer activist go up against the most corrupt and stupid individual to ever occupy the Oval Office.
If Warren were to win the nomination, then beat Trump while Democrats hold the House and make significant gains in the Senate, it’s a whole new ballgame in American politics. It requires a massive leap of faith to believe that is possible. But then again, three years ago, most people didn’t believe this country would put a repugnant racist buffoon like Trump in charge. Maybe we can surprise ourselves again — this time in a good way.