Kamala Harris brings fundraising prowess to Democratic ticket

Kamala Harris
(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) is expected to bring fundraising prowess as presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s running mate, further boosting a campaign that is already on track to smash fundraising records.

Donors who backed Harris’ 2020 presidential campaign have already given $19 million to Biden, accounting for 7 percent of his campaign’s fundraising. That figure is certain to rise after Tuesday’s announcement. 

Harris, who raised $40 million for her own White House bid, built connections with wealthy California donors during her career as a prosecutor and attorney general. Harris’ selection is likely to win over Silicon Valley patrons who have so far held off from bankrolling Biden’s campaign, Recode reported. Some Wall Street donors also cheered Biden’s selection, CNBC reported.

Biden’s campaign has made the case that it needs all the money it can get to take on President Donald Trump in November, courting billionaire donors and slyly encouraging supporters to bankroll big-money super PACs. Despite Trump’s early fundraising efforts during his first year in office, Biden and the Democratic National Committee have almost caught up to Trump in total cash, entering August with $295 million in the bank to Trump’s $300 million. 

Biden and Harris are already getting to work. They sent out a series of fundraising emails Tuesday, with Harris telling supporters she has been “standing up to Trump, and people like him” her entire career. ActBlue, Democrats’ go-to fundraising platform, told the New York Times it processed nearly $11 million in donations in the four hours after Biden announced Harris would be his running mate. 

The most populous and wealthiest state in the nation, California is the top source of campaign funding for both Biden and Trump. Donors in the Golden State are a key demographic for political campaigns across the nation, having already given three-quarters of a billion dollars to federal candidates and groups.

California donors also account for 30 percent of the money going to the Biden Victory Fund, a big-dollar joint fundraising committee benefitting Biden’s campaign and the Democratic Party committees. That group raked in over $86 million from wealthy donors from late April through June. 

The first Black and Asian woman to headline a presidential ticket, Harris served as district attorney of San Francisco and as California attorney general before being elected to the Senate in 2016. Her tough-on-crime record is already creating messaging headaches for the Trump campaign. Trump, who twice donated to Harris’ attorney general campaign, called Harris a “phony” following Tuesday’s announcement. Vice President Mike Pence, who will debate Harris in October, cast her and the Democratic Party as being taken over by the “radical left.”

Despite the Trump team’s insistence that Harris is a radical candidate, she has support from wealthy investors. Ron Conway, a billionaire Silicon Valley venture capitalist, backed Harris for attorney general and donated $50,000 to a super PAC to support Harris’ 2016 Senate bid. Conway gave $250,000 to Unite the Country and $100,000 to The Lincoln Project, two pro-Biden super PACs. Billionaire investor Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple founder Steve Jobs, tweeted that Biden made a “great choice.” She made a $610,600 contribution to Biden’s joint fundraising committee.

Harris hosted virtual fundraisers with Biden long before he selected her as his running mate, helping Biden make inroads with wealthy California financiers. Los Angeles real estate mogul George Marcus of Marcus & Millichap has already given $4 million to Biden’s campaign and pro-Biden super PACs. Bay Area Billionaire venture capitalist Michael Moritz of Sequoia Capital gave $2 million. Joe Kiani, founder of the Irvine medical device company Masimo Corp, gave $1.8 million.

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Karl Evers-Hillstrom

Karl joined the Center for Responsive Politics in October 2018. As CRP’s money-in-politics reporter, he writes and edits stories for the news section and helps manage a team of diligent writers. A native of Brooklyn, New York, Karl graduated from State University of New York at New Paltz in 2016 with a B.A. in journalism. He previously worked at The Globe, a regional newspaper based in Worthington, Minnesota. His email is [email protected]

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