The Democracy Alliance, a secretive group of donors on the left who collectively spend hundreds of millions of dollars on politics, is spending this week revving up members to pour money into the 2020 election, warning that inaction could extend President Donald Trump’s time in office.
In opening remarks to donors at a Washington hotel, Democracy Alliance president Gara LaMarche cautioned that “we can’t afford one iota of complacency” during the upcoming election.
“Donald Trump is competitive in key battleground states and could very well win reelection,” LaMarche said, according to written remarks viewed by POLITICO. “Does this scare the hell out of you? If so, good! Stay scared! We have 51 weeks to work our asses off to make sure that Donald Trump is repudiated and removed from office next November.”
Former President Barack Obama and 2018 Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams headlined the event, which runs from Wednesday through Saturday, and a slew of current and former lawmakers and officials will appear, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Party leaders will outline their roadmap for Democrats in the 2020 election and strategize over everything from voter registration to combating online disinformation.
One panel this week, billed as a “power 2020 breakfast,” featured Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee chair Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair Rep. Cheri Bustos in a “frank, off-the-record conversation about the challenges and opportunities next year’s election brings,” according to an agenda reviewed by POLITICO.
Other prominent Democrats made unofficial appearances: Former Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota gabbed with attendees on a couch in the lobby on Wednesday evening, before the opening reception for the conference. Franken resigned from his seat in 2018 amid multiple sexual misconduct allegations, but he has recently begun making more public appearances and was the subject of a profile in the New Yorker.
Members of the Democracy Alliance, which has included billionaire George Soros and current presidential candidate Tom Steyer pledge to give a minimum of $200,000 to causes approved by the group each year, though some give significantly more.
Representatives from the Democratic Governors Association, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee and a host of other key organizations were among those on hand for the event. Democracy Alliance donors attended sessions focused on elections in the Great Lakes region, and there were multiple panels on building power in the South and Southwest, a focus for the donor group.
While most of the conference is focused on the 2020 election, one panel turned to foreign policy and the recent partnership between billionaire George Soros and Charles Koch on foreign policy: a new think tank called The Quincy Institute. California Rep. Ro Khanna and a Quincy Institute leader headlined the session, titled “Ending America’s Endless Wars: A new path forward for foreign policy.”
Some donors to the Democracy Alliance, such as San Francisco activist Steve Phillips, a Cory Booker supporter, chose 2020 candidates early in the primary. But others interviewed by POLITICO, though still committed to defeating Trump, were largely ambivalent about the contenders vying to take on the president.
And for the most part, they did not express relief or significant enthusiasm at the headline-making late entry of Deval Patrick or the potential addition of Michael Bloomberg to the 2020 primary field.
“I’m down on all the frontrunners,” said David desJardins, a Silicon Valley investor and former board member of the Democracy Alliance, who expressed a longing for a candidate capable of “bringing people together” to play a leading role. Politics, desJardins added, “is all about picking fights.”
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