|A Visit to Ready for Hillary Headquarters
|Dec. 17, 2013-Adam Parkhomenko,
director of the Ready for Hillary super PAC, discussed the group's
efforts at its headquarters in Rosslyn. Parkhomenko said Ready
Hillary aims to provide a voice and a vehicle for both longtime and new
supporters of Hillary Clinton should she decide to run for
president. "When she's ready, if she's ready,
they'll be there for her," he said.
Ready for Hillary officially launched on April 2. It made an early splash by sending out free bumper stickers. By the end of July, the PAC had raised more than $1.25 million (+, >), and the number of donors is now approaching 30,000. Ready for Hillary has set a contributions cap of $25,000 per individual; the most common contribution level is $20.16. Contributions are reinvested, for example to reach out to more people online, as well as at a number of events held around the country.
For 2014 Ready for Hillary plans to continue to engage people, identifying supporters, volunteers and people ready to work on a potential Clinton campaign. In contrast to many super PACs which tend to make big media buys, Ready for Hillary is "an organization about people," Parkhomenko said. He emphasized his objective of "making sure people feel connected." For example, looking ahead, Clinton's memoir is expected out this summer and may well lead to a book tour; Ready for Hillary can stir interest in the tour. The group is learning from the successes of the Obama campaign; 270 Strategies, a firm headed by key Obama staffers Mitch Stewart and Jeremy Bird, is helping to build its field and consituency engagement team. Ready for Hillary is emulating the metrics-centered approach of the Obama campaign. "[There are] numbers we want to hit," said Parkhomenko.
Ready for Hillary will also help the Democratic Party as a whole. In 2013 Ready for Hillary staff knocked on doors for Terry McAuliffe in his campaign for governor of Virginia and supporters also helped New York City mayoral candidate Bill DeBlasio. There may be more of this kind of activity in the 2014 mid-terms. Because Ready for Hillary has no communications or inside connections to Clinton, it must operate on assumptions about what she will do. Interns and volunteers research on the web for events that Clinton is scheduled to appear at, and some decisions are made day to day as information develops.
While there have been grassroots movements to support or draft potential presidential candidates in previous elections, it is unprecedented to have such a big organization this early. Ready for Hillary also has more than a dozen staff and 5,500 square feet of office space, opened on September 15, and soon to double to 11,000 square feet. On the Republican side there are some comparable but much smaller efforts. The National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee, a super PAC chaired by John Philip Sousa IV, is encouraging the retired neurosurgeon to run for president. On December 3 the Draft Carson committee announced it had raised more than $1 million. It also claims "many thousands volunteers nationwide with more signing up each and every day." However, compared to Ready for Hillary's 1,243,176 Facebook "Likes", the Carson Facebook page has just 93,549 "Likes." There is also a Ready for Christie PAC formed in late October; its Facebook page has 683 likes.
One might say that December 2013 is too early or even way too early for all this activity, Parkhomenko counters those who believe a Clinton campaign is inevitable and that Clinton can trounce a Republican opponent. He says it is important to build that "army of grassroots supporters." He states, "I will never believe that she's just going to run; I will never believe that she's just going to win." "She's very much an underdog," he says. "There's a lot of work to be done."
|Seth Bringman, Ready for
Hillary's communications director, joins Adam Parkhomenko in his office.
| The Ready for Hillary store has
a variety of items such as shirts, caps, buttons, mugs and even tote
bags to put all that RFH gear into. Shelves and boxes of
merchandise were evident throughout the headquarters.
|Parkhomenko shows one of the shirts made by Rags
of Honor, a Chicago firm that hires unemployed veterans.