Ready for Hillary, the group focused on helping Hillary Clinton win the White House in 2016, is gearing up to aid her down-ballot allies in races leading into the midterm elections.
But the first push will be for Democrat Terry McAuliffe, a longtime Clinton family ally running for governor in Virginia this year.
“We have identified a large group of Hillary supporters in Virginia. There's a very important election this November, and we're absolutely going to make sure our supporters are aware of that election,” says Ready for Hillary executive director Adam Parkhomenko. “Any way our organization can help, within the legal limits, is something we'll do.”
While its leaders want to be careful not to get ahead of Clinton herself in choosing which candidates to support, once she endorses a candidate Ready for Hillary plans to do whatever it can to get the person election. Ready for Hillary is still working through what it can do — as an independent super-PAC — to help candidates.
“That's something we're talking about — You're going to see the PAC start to get involved in the midterms,” Parkhomenko says.
Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D), a high-profile backer of the group, said retaking control of Congress is necessary for Clinton — or any Democrat running for president — to be successful.
“Whoever the next Democratic president is, they don't want to be saddled with the same congress that President Obama has — you don't want a presidency where you're playing defense the whole time,” she said.
“It's important for the Democratic Party that people get out there and change the dynamics so you don't have a paralyzed congress.”
Granholm says she talked to Clinton within the last month but that the subject of 2016 never came up.
Instead, they discussed some possible work Granholm might do with the Clinton Global Initiative, the Clintons’ international organization.
She’s also heading to campaign for McAuliffe in a few weeks, though Granholm says the scheduled trip is separate from her work with the pro-Hillary group.
Ready for Hillary has been relatively quiet in recent months following a spate of high-profile endorsements shortly after its launch in January.
Its focus has been on staffing up and planning for the fall. The group has hired a youth director and is adding coalitions directors for African Americans, Latinos, women and gays. It’s also hired 270 Strategies, a firm run by top former Obama campaign officials.
The fall will also focus on fundraising, with more than a dozen events being set up across the country including in New York, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. Granholm will participate in some of the events, she said.
The group was created to encourage Clinton to run at a time — just as she was stepping down as secretary of State — when many assumed she would take a low public profile.
Group organizers deny that Clinton’s more high-profile schedule has surprised them, and say it’s offered them more opportunities to promote their cause.
They hope to surpass one million supporters on Facebook in September, and predict they’ll surpass the $1.25 million they raised in the last fundraising quarter in the next one.
“I don't think it's possible for someone like Hillary to sit completely on the sidelines especially when Supreme Court is putting the voting rights of millions in jeopardy, all these issues on the economy and rights of women around the world in the forefront right now,” said former Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), another top Ready for Hillary supporter who was undersecretary of State while Clinton was in the State Department.
After Clinton ripped the Supreme Court for its decision gutting the Voting Rights Act in a speech to the American Bar Association, Ready for Hillary launched a petition on the VRA.
Clinton is scheduled to release a book next year, and if she tours to promote the book the group plans on organizing events around her appearances.
Clinton’s high-profile appearances have also been accompanied by sniping from Republican organizations, a trend that’s likely to increase as she spends more time in the public light.
But Ready for Hillary’s organizers say they don’t see their role as answering attacks conservative groups launch against Clinton.
“In my mind, we're fighting back for Hillary every single day by organizing this early in a positive manner,” says Parkhomenko.
“Until the time when we have Hillary Clinton saying she's going to run for president, there's no reason to respond,” says Tauscher.