Presidential races

Ready for Hillary ready to step aside as she prepares campaign

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As Hillary Clinton readies her campaign, Ready for Hillary is getting ready to step aside.

Founded to convince the former secretary of State to run for office, the organization is planning to dissolve as soon as possible after Clinton formally announces.

Their parting gift to her: A list of more than 3.6 million supporters they’ll push to sign on with Clinton’s official campaign, leaving her with a huge pool of potential donors and volunteers as she enters the race. 

{mosads}”When she announces a decision, our work will be complete,” Ready for Hillary Executive Director Adam Parkhomenko told The Hill. “My number one goal is to identify as many supporters as possible and if she announces she’s running to transition as many of them over to the campaign.” 

Ready for Hillary has been planning since the start to dissolve once Clinton jumps in. They’ll encourage as many backers as possible to sign up with her official campaign with a heavy email and social media push to accompany her launch.

The super-PAC will also publicly post its list of large donors so the Clinton campaign can follow up with them. They’ve worked up plans to share the full supporters list with the Clinton campaign either through a list rental, like President Obama’s Organizing for Action does, or list sharing.

Ready for Hillary strategists expect the group will top 4 million supporters and more than 150,000 donors by mid-April, around the time Clinton is expected to officially announce her campaign. It will have raised roughly $15 million by then, with most of that money spent to help grow its supporter list.

Those are gaudy numbers for organization that no one knew what to make of at first — including Clinton’s inner circle, many of whom were skeptical when Ready for Hillary first launched.

“I don’t think there was a big kerfuffle with the Clinton people, but I think folks wanted to make sure anytime anything has to do with Hillary that it’s fabulous, that it meets people’s expectations of being professional and organized and living between the lines and doing all the right things,” said former Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), who served under Clinton at State and was an early backer of the group. 

Parkhomenko, a low-level Clinton staffer in the 2008 campaign, founded the organization with Clinton donor Allida Black in early 2013, shortly after Clinton stepped down from the Obama administration. 

Once their group started catching fire with the grassroots, Clinton’s advisors decided to embrace the effort, steering a handful of top former advisors to help the organization — and help make sure it didn’t create any problems for Clinton.

“When I learned about Ready for Hillary I was intrigued but wary,” said Terry Shumaker, a longtime Clinton ally who was one of President Bill Clinton’s first New Hampshire primary backers in the 1992 campaign.

He eventually decided to sign on as an advisor after talking to former White House Political Director Craig Smith and former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Harold Ickes, two early big-name backers of the organization. 

Shumaker says the group’s efforts have exceeded his expectations, arguing that the efforts helped scare off potential primary opponents while giving Clinton time to mull a bid. 

The group claims 56,000 active volunteers, has held events in all 50 states as well as abroad, and has been endorsed by 29 Democratic senators and more than 100 House members.

“We have many more names than we had when she suspended her campaign in June of ’08. It really has worked out even better than my strongest hopes in the spring and summer of ’13,” said Shumaker. “We’ve channeled all that amazing pent-up energy and demand to support her in a very constructive way.”  

It’s the group’s sunny tone, army of young activists and tech savvy as much as its high-profile backers that has attracted attention — Ready for Hillary advisor Tracy Sefl described the group as “relentlessly positive,” a comment echoed by other senior supporters.

That stands in starkest contrast to Clinton’s 2008 campaign, which was beaten on the tech front and in grassroots organizing by Obama’s and struggled regularly with nasty infighting and a hostility towards the media.

Clinton has gone out of her way to bring in no-drama senior strategists and communications staff who have strong relationships with journalists on her soon-to-be official side, though the recent scandal over her emails and her guarded responses during a follow-up press conference have renewed questions about whether that will work.

Some of her allies hope her campaign will have the same type of focused, sunny message that Ready for Hillary has maintained — though a full-time campaign facing hostile opponents and tough media faces many more challenges than a supporting outside group.

“It’s been an absolute pleasure to be involved with the kids, as I call them, and be involved in a movement that has a lot of ingenuity and political saliency,” said Tauscher. 

This story was updated at 9:20 a.m. on March 24.

Tags Hillary Clinton Ready for Hillary

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