With a mere 932 days to go before Election Day 2016, local supporters of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential ambitions are getting organized.
They’re throwing a fundraiser Tuesday night at Seattle’s Spitfire bar. The proceeds will go to the Ready For Hillary PAC, the unofficial committee raising cash in hopes of a Clinton 2016 bid. The event, with a suggested donation of $20.16, is being co-hosted by dozens of women prominent in local Democratic politics.
“Mostly it is to kick off the movement here in Washington – to build a grassroots army of supporters,” said Linda Mitchell, a Seattle political consultant organizing the effort. The PAC, said Mitchell, “is all about building a list… for when and if she gets ready to run.”
The Clinton loyalists also are organizing house parties and other events in the coming months.
Early? Yep. But Clinton backers say they’re more eager than ever to see the former First Lady and Secretary of State become the first female president.
“I just can’t imagine anybody who is more qualified,” said Mitchell. “If it doesn’t happen that way I will be very disappointed.”
Among the 35 co-hosts for Tuesday’s event are: state Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle; state Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma; Seattle City Councilmember Sally Clark; Jaime Smith, spokesperson for Gov. Jay Inslee; and Microsoft lobbyist DeLee Shoemaker. The event is expected to draw about 100, Mitchell said.
The Ready For Hillary PAC has pulled in $5.7 million since it started raising money in 2013, with only about $16,000 coming from Washington state donors. Officially, Clinton has said she’s “thinking about” a presidential bid, but has made no decision.
Her supporters hope to avoid a repeat of 2008, when Clinton’s mainstream, juggernaut campaign was derailed by the insurgent energy of supporters of a former junior senator from Illinois, Barack Obama.
“Hillary supporters should absolutely not take this for granted. There were mistakes made in 2008. It was very top down. I think that one of the things you are going to see this year is it’s going to be much more bottom up in its composition,” said Paul Berendt, a former state Democratic Party chairman who was a Clinton delegate in 2008.
While getting a jump on rivals could be a plus, there is also a risk, Berendt said, “if people get tired of hearing about here before the campaign even gets going.”
Party officials said they were not aware of any other 2016 presidential campaigns stirring in Washington state.
State Republican Party spokesman Steve Beren said he was not aware of any GOP candidate organizing here this early, adding that the party won’t be “rubber stamping” any candidate.
Jaxon Ravens, chairman of the Washington State Democrats, said “it does seem a little early, but they (candidates) stake out their claims earlier and earlier. There is a lot at stake.”