Priorities USA set to join 2016 fray with new leadership

Priorities USA Action, the super PAC that helped give President Obama air cover during his hard-fought reelection campaign, is set to announce a new leadership team Friday that will begin refashioning the group to serve as an ally for Hillary Rodham Clinton if she jumps in the 2016 race.

Buffy Wicks, a longtime field organizer who served as a key official in Obama’s reelection campaign, will be the super PAC’s executive director, according to officials. She is currently a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. In 2013, she helped lead Obama's get-out-the-vote operation among key constituencies such as African Americans, Latinos and youth.

Veteran Democratic fundraiser Jonathan Mantz, who served as Clinton’s national finance director during her 2008 bid, will come aboard as senior adviser for finance. He is currently managing director at the lobbying firm BGR Group.

They are expected to be joined by an expanded board of directors, which may include former Obama campaign manager Jim Messina, although those decisions are not yet final. Paul Begala and Sean Sweeney will stay on as senior advisers.

The personnel changes come as Priorities seeks to position itself as the main advertising vehicle to support a Clinton candidacy, a move sought by Hollywood producer Jeffrey Katzenberg, who helped provide the super PAC with its initial seed money in 2011.

As Priorities officials have been slowly laying the groundwork for that transition, however, donors have been captivated by the aggressive and early success of another super PAC, Ready for Hillary, which is seeking to build a grass-roots networks of supporters. That group, which caps contributions at $25,000 a person, raised $4 million last year.

Friday’s planned announcement indicates that Priorities is now officially entering the 2016 fray and will begin aggressive fundraising.

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