Kerry Capitalizing on Party Resources to Fill Coffers
In the entire last quarter of 2003, Kerry raised $2.4 million.
With a 20-city fundraising tour beginning at the end of next week designed to raise large contributions -- $1,000 to $2,000 -- the figures suggest that Kerry's goal of raising $80 million through the summer is well within reach.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Terence R. McAuliffe said the party will have an unprecedented $25 million in the bank at the end of this month, with no debt. In addition, McAuliffe said the party's annual gala next Thursday has already raised $10.3 million, more than doubling the record set in 2000 of $4.6 million.
Bill Clinton is planning a springtime announcement to help raise money for Kerry and several outside groups, according to a source close to the former president. Meantime, Clinton is one of several prominent Democrats who signed an e-mail appeal to raise $10 million in the 10 days leading up to next week's dinner, which he will attend.
Peter Maroney, who moved from national finance director for the Kerry campaign to national finance co-chair for the DNC, said he will run the Kerry Victory 2004 Committee. The first $2,000 of any contribution will go to Kerry, and the rest -- as much as $25,000 -- will go to the DNC.
Lierman has set up a meeting for next week between Kerry and members of the "Dean's List," a group of 100 men and women who each raised $50,000 or more for the former Democratic candidate.
Last week, Kerry met with about 100 of Sen. John Edwards's fundraisers, many of them trial lawyers who had collected thousands of $2,000 donations. "Everybody in that room is very committed to taking George Bush out of office," said Frederick M. Baron, Edwards's finance chairman.
Some trial lawyers in the Edwards camp are holding back support for Kerry to pressure him to pick Edwards (N.C.) as a running mate. Baron played down the effort, saying it is limited to a few lawyers, who, he said, will soon fully support Kerry.
One Democratic concern has been the threat of defections among Jewish donors. Bush, who has been a supporter of Israel, has sought to win over many Jewish Democrats.
Steve Grossman, Dean's former campaign chairman who now backs Kerry, said 16 top fundraisers, most of them Jewish, held a conference call this week to finalize plans to raise several million dollars for Kerry. Many of those fundraisers, who call themselves the "Dinner Group," are Pennsylvanians and are lobbying Kerry to tap Gov. Edward G. Rendell, who is Jewish, for vice president.
Josh Ross, director of Kerry Internet strategy, said the campaign has a list of 500,000 people to solicit for money, all of whom signaled their interest in Kerry through the Internet. Ross noted that Internet fundraising is more cost-effective than direct mail or major-donor dinner and cocktail events, costing only about 3 cents on the dollar.
The Kerry campaign and the DNC allow fundraisers to have their own donor pages on the Internet contribution systems. That way a fundraiser who persuades someone to give money over the Internet will get credit for that contribution.
Also, a system of titles for major donors has been set up, similar to Bush's Pioneers and Rangers, who have raised $100,000 and $200,000, respectively.
The Kerry campaign selected neutral titles to avoid too direct comparisons to Bush. Those who raise $25,000 are members of the national finance committee, those who raise $50,000 are co-chairs and those who come up with $100,000 are vice chairs.
The DNC has more colorful titles.
Under a banner of "Bring Down King George," the program ranges from those who raise $1,000 to become members of the "Minuteman Corps" and get "a limited edition ePatriot lapel pin," to those who raise $10,000 to join "Paul Revere's Midnight Riders" and "earn a phone briefing with DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe" -- all the way to $100,000 fundraisers who become DNC Patriots and qualify for a host of benefits at the Democratic National Convention in Boston.
Kerry and DNC fundraisers are conducting a joint effort to persuade contributors to all the losing presidential candidates to back Kerry. Overall, the Democratic field, excluding Kerry, raised $118 million through Jan. 31. All those donors can legally give to Kerry.
In addition, Kerry and the DNC are pressing wealthy donors to the campaigns, who are allowed to give a maximum of $2,000 to Kerry, to also give the maximum of $25,000 to the DNC.
Kerry's success on the money front was reflected earlier this week. Lanny Davis, Clinton's former counsel, invited New York Attorney General Eliot L. Spitzer, a prospective gubernatorial candidate, to be the speaker for a $500-a-head fundraiser at the St. Regis Hotel.
Davis said nearly 200 Washington lobbyists and lawyers showed up, four times as many as expected.
"In all of my years in Democratic politics, I have never seen an easier fundraising process," Davis said.
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