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Democrats woo donors for big redistricting fight

PHILADELPHIA — Democratic leaders and senior operatives brought together 50 top donors here Thursday afternoon to prepare for the launch of a new 527 group committed to a six-year redistricting fight.

The new outfit will be a clearinghouse for raising and directing money, operatives tell POLITICO, but also organize priorities for a wide coalition of Democratic and Democratic-aligned groups across the country, down to directing in which states to try to get redistricting initiatives on the ballot in and even identifying pivotal state senate and assembly races to make national focuses.

President Barack Obama has already been briefed on the effort, aides say, and is likely to make campaigning and fundraising for the group one of his post-presidency priorities. It dovetails with a new effort focusing on state legislative races that the president is launching for the fall.

The massive losses among state legislature and governors under President Barack Obama’s has allowed the GOP to redraw statehouse and Congressional districts to make them reliably Republican. Democrats blame their falling behind in gerrymandering being stuck in the House minority. Even this year, with hopes high that Donald Trump can help them win enough House races to climb out of their historically small minority, the district maps are so lopsided that Democrats privately admit that likely fewer than two dozen seats are actually in play.

This new group, which is being incubated by the Democratic Governors Association and the House Majority PAC, is their attempt at an answer. The next round of redistricting come after the 2020 Census.

“The president’s been fully briefed on this and he is 100 percent committed, both in the short term and after he leaves office,” said Mitch Stewart, Obama’s 2012 battleground states director who’s now working with the group. He has briefed White House political director David Simas, who in turn has kept Obama up to date. “Literally every entity that’s involved in Democratic or progressive politics has been briefed and is supportive — that includes the Clinton campaign.”

The effort grew out of a year’s worth of smaller and full group meetings, with a list of participants that includes representatives from AFSCME, the AFL-CIO, the NEA, EMILY’s List, Planned Parenthood, the League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club, and America Votes, as well as the Democratic Governors Association, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (which oversees statehouse races) and House Majority PAC.

The group is aiming to be up and running in time to play in this year's elections, but the real action is pointed to the coming cycles. This will be separate, but aligned with the Democratic Governors Association’s existing "Unrig the Map" effort and the DCCC’s Majority Project, both of which are also focused on redistricting, and which will continue.

“Starting this year, but building toward 2020,” said DGA communications director Jared Leopold, “we feel we need a comprehensive effort that looks at governors races, House races, state legislature races and legal issues to help Democrats up and down the ballot.”

The donors met Thursday at the Loews Hotel in Center City here, and were briefed by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, DCCC chair Rep. Ben Ray Luján, DGA chair Gov. Dannel Malloy and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, according to an invitation obtained by POLITICO.

They laid out the case to the donors, priming them to open their checkbooks to support the initiative.

“This is not like an organization that is looking to mission-build internally,” Stewart said. “We really see the organization acting as a strategic cover for all the organizations that will be playing in states.”


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Posted on 08.09.2016 23:11
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