The Washington Post

Hillary Clinton’s 2016 boosters push rival super PACs

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during the Clinton Global Initiative America meeting in Chicago (John Gress/Reuters)

Harold Ickes, a longtime fixture in Democratic politics and a confidant of the Clintons, predicts super PACs to support Hillary Clinton’s potential 2016 presidential candidacy may soon be “popping up like mushrooms in the spring."

Well, the proliferation has begun. At least three super PACs have registered with the Federal Election Commission using Clinton’s name in their titles — raising the specter of supporters inadvertently working against her political interests and muddying the landscape.

The most prominent of the super PACs is Ready for Hillary, an outfit Ickes and other Clinton associates are advising that is fast becoming the quasi-official stand-in for Clinton’s campaign. But other groups are trying to raise money from Clinton supporters eager to see the former secretary of state make another bid for the White House.

One such super PAC is Hillary FTW (as in, For The Win), founded by Hector Pacheco, an entertainment lawyer in Los Angeles who has designs on his super PAC becoming the nexus of Latinos for Clinton. Although Pacheco has brought some Latino political organizers who worked for Clinton’s 2008 campaign on board, he said he is trying to build a “new bench” of organizers who might replace what he called Clinton’s “old guard” of the 2008 campaign.

“One of the criticisms that a lot of her supporters, including myself, have of her last campaign is it’s too much of the old guard, the old strategists, so we want to give her a fresh start, a new bench to draw her support from,” Pacheco said in an interview.

He added that he has “no doubt” that she will decide to run for president again. “We expect her to announce in early 2015, so it gives us some time to build up volunteers and build out infrastructure and clear the field for her from anyone else who’s crazy enough to think about running.”

Never mind that Clinton’s associates say she is truly undecided about launching another campaign, and that she is settling in – for now, at least – at her family’s charitable foundation to pursue philanthropic missions.

Pacheco said his strategy for the coming months is to use money raised mostly online from Clinton supporters to fund public opinion polls in the early voting states, conducted by Survey USA and Public Policy Polling, that would show Clinton as unbeatable.

“We want to get the media narrative of inevitability,” Pacheco said.

Of course, the narrative of inevitability helped doomed her candidacy in 2008, when upstart Barack Obama rallied Democrats to his side.

But Hillary FTW may be short-lived. Michael Trujillo, a longtime operative for Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D) who organized Hispanic voters on Clinton’s behalf in 2008, is advising Hillary FTW on strategy and predicted in an interview that the group could fold into Ready for Hillary at some point after the June 30 deadline for super PACs to make their financials public.

“There’s a possibility of us merging so that way it’s one message, it’s one PAC, everyone’s in the same lane,” Trujillo said. “Everyone has the same objective, and that is if Hillary Clinton tries to run for president, to make sure that there’s a strong nationwide base of activists, supporters, donors, elected officials ready and willing to help her.”

Ready for Hillary, Trujillo added, “will be the official ‘Good Housekeeping’ seal of approval for all things Hillary. I highly, highly doubt that you’ll see a rival pro-Hillary super PAC come out.”

Philip Rucker is a national political correspondent for The Washington Post, where he has reported since 2005.



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