Team Hillary is tearing itself apart—who will step up to reap the benefits?
Welcome to Team Hillary vs. Itself, Round 2! (3? 4? I lost track.)
Yesterday, operative and scourge-of-the-right-wing David Brock resigned in protest from pro-Clinton super PAC Priorities USA Action. In his message to the board, he accused his colleagues of orchestrating a “hit job” against his other project organizations, American Bridge and Media Matters.
More from Politico:
Those groups — along with another pro-Clinton group, the super PAC Ready for Hillary — had their fundraising practices called into question last week by a New York Times report. It pointed out that veteran Democratic fundraiser Mary Pat Bonner got a 12.5 percent commission on funds she raised for Brock’s groups and a smaller percentage commission on cash she raised for Ready for Hillary.
In his letter to the co-chairs of Priorities’ board — former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and former Obama campaign manager Jim Messina — Brock alleged that “current and former Priorities officials were behind this specious and malicious attack on the integrity of these critical organizations.”
The letter — and Brock’s resignation — offer a rare glimpse into a network of groups upon which Democrats are relying to keep the White House and stave off increasingly robust big-money efforts on the right. The public airing of dirty laundry comes as sources say Priorities is struggling to live up to the hopes of some Clinton allies, who had argued it should aim to raise as much as $500 million to eviscerate prospective Clinton rivals in the primary and general elections.
It’s not just the groups that Democrats are relying on to keep the White House—it’s the optics of the thing.
Right now, Hillary Clinton is the left’s only primary season sure thing. We’ve played around with a Warren candidacy, and fantasized about a Biden candidacy (the memes we could create!), but let’s get serious—Hillary has a huge advantage over those two based on name recognition (hands down) and activist base (we’ll get to this in a minute) alone.
Recently, Tamara Keith at NPR addressed the size disparity between the Democratic and Republican fields. After speaking to people with America Rising PAC, a Republican oppo research outfit about other Democratic prospects, she went out into the field to test Rising’s theory that there are potentially no challengers to Clinton:
To test the theory, I went to downtown Chicago — hotbed of Democratic politics — to ask people whom they expect to run for president. Here are some of the responses I got:
April Williams, sighing: “The only one I can think of is Hillary Clinton. That’s about it.”
Martha O’Connor: “Honestly, to be honest with you, Hillary is kind of the only person that pops into my mind.”
David Johnston: “Joe Biden, you know, vice president. They usually go for it afterwards.”
Adrienne Wonzer: “Hillary Clinton, first of all, and then Liz. Oh, my gosh. I can’t think of her name. … Liz Warren, No. 2. And I can’t think of a third possibility.”
Elizabeth Warren is a name that came up again and again. Hector Ortiz, who considers himself an independent voter, said he’d like to see her run. But, he said, “I don’t know if she will.”
As for Warren herself, she told us back in December, “I am not running for president. Do you want me to put an exclamation point at the end?”
Brock’s very public, very bitter resignation has revealed not only the cracks in the Hillary machine, but the insecurity harbored by operatives who have waited years for it to be Hillary’s turn.
The problem has less to do with the candidate, and more with the pressure that goes along with the mythos of a she-Clinton candidacy. Everyone—especially the exclusively pro-Clinton activists waiting in the wings—knows that this is coming, and that the people chosen to take the helm have had years to prepare for their moment in the spotlight.
Normally, people who have had years to prepare for their moment in the spotlight don’t flame out before that moment even arrives.
Last week I wrote an article about Clinton’s lack of even a media response infrastructure. Expand that to “media presence” in general:
Clinton’s biggest problem now isn’t Warren, or the men in her party, or a horde of hostile Republicans; it’s the simple fact that her campaign has started without her. She may not have an official infrastructure in place, but the fact that she isn’t in the race speaks volumes about her potential as a candidate and more importantly, her potential to play to (coddle?) a sensitive, feelings-over-thoughts demographic.
One thing that conservatives have learned is that raw strategy doesn’t translate into something the average voter understands. The Clinton camp’s decision to hold off until they get their own house in order may be strategically wise (considering they’re eating each other over that very decision,) but the optics are suffering. This is something that will hurt Clinton in the long run, because it’s one more bad optic that Republican front runners will be able to exploit.
Groups like Priorities USA claims that it will be able to replicate what the progressive machine did in 2012, but their problems have compounded twofold due to the failure of Clinton herself to arrange her troops. If Brock is to be believed, the various organizations and PACs set up to support Hillary aren’t only infighting—they’re competing for donor dollars at the expense of the overall mission, and a cohesive message.
If these operatives refuse to work together and trust each other this early in the game, they’re going to have a hard time putting together the kind of organization it takes to win what is shaping up to be a highly-contested Presidential race.
One can only hope they keep tripping each other up.DONATE
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