Vice President Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) are set to address a group of wealthy liberal donors gathering in Washington this week for a private meeting to determine the direction of their political investments in the coming years.
The four-day conference of Democracy Alliance is expected to include dissections of what went wrong for Democrats in last week’s midterm elections, as well as a wide-ranging discussion about adopting a new, long-term strategy to reverse GOP gains in the states.
Biden is set to be the keynote speaker at the alliance’s closing event Friday night at the Newseum, according to people familiar with the schedule.
Despite the dismal showing for Democrats in this year’s races, president Gara LaMarche said that he does not believe the results demoralized the party’s financial backers.
“I feel people are disappointed,” he told The Washington Post in an interview Wednesday at the Mandarin Oriental, where the conference is being held. “I don’t think they felt their money was wasted. I think they feel you make the good fight, you do what you can, and sometimes you lose.”
The alliance – an invitation-only group that makes funding recommendations to political contributors on the left – is in the process of reassessing the current portfolio of groups that it endorses, a process that could end up directing resources to new organizations active in state-level organizing. The group’s board, chaired by veteran labor leader John Stocks, will approve a new portfolio in early 2015.
Since it launched in 2005, the group’s roughly 100 members have directed about $500 million into helping build an infrastructure of think tanks, research organizations and political support groups on the left. The group’s partners, which are required to give at least $200,000 a year, help finance organizations such as Media Matters for America, a media watchdog group; America Votes, which coordinates the efforts of allied interest groups; and Catalist, which provides voter data.
Democracy Alliance officials believe there is a need to substantially increase investments in states to help Democrats claw back more legislative and gubernatorial seats from Republicans by 2020, when the next congressional redistricting process begins.
Also on the agenda for this fall’s meeting are panels about the role of race as an electoral wedge issue, challenges to voting rights, developments in the climate change battle and policies that reflect the needs of “the new American majority” – women, youths and people of color, according to a copy of the schedule obtained by The Post.
Warren is scheduled to give an address Thursday afternoon about economic injustice, as first reported by Politico. Supporters of the liberal firebrand are pushing her to challenge expected 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was not invited to this week’s meeting.
LaMarche said the invitation to Warren did not indicate any preference by the alliance in the upcoming White House contest.
“As Secretary Clinton herself said recently, Senator Warren is a leading economic voice in the party,” he said. “We want to have a strong emphasis on the economy and we asked her to kick off that section.”
“DA is scrupulously neutral in presidential politics,” LaMarche added, saying he expects that Clinton will speak at an alliance conference over the next year or two.