Politics

Leaders of progressive donor fund launch new PAC specializing in down-ballot races

A Capitol Police officer wearing a protective mask walks past the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020.

Stefani Reynolds | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The leaders of a progressive donor fund are launching a political action committee aiming to help down-ballot candidates. 

The committee, called Way to Lead, is meant to act as a hybrid PAC that will contribute to candidates at state and federal levels.

The group’s affiliated state PACs are also slated to help. The overall effort will include spending on advertisements and voter outreach. It is being run by a co-founder of Way to Win, a fundraising hub dedicated to helping progressive candidates and organizations.

Way to Win has moved over $60 million to progressive Democratic causes so far in the 2020 election cycle. 

The new PAC is being run by Jenifer Ancona, a co-founder of Way to Win. The committee plans to launch on Thursday with over $5 million that will be spent on targeting voters in key states, such as Arizona, Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Texas and Georgia, Ancona said in an interview with CNBC. The first wave of endorsements is for Democratic candidates battling it out in federal and statewide races. 

Some of the PAC’s early financial supporters include Liz Simons, a philanthropist and the daughter of Democratic donor James Simons; Susan Stowell Pritzker, a member of the wealthy Pritzker family that includes Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and President Barack Obama’s former Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker; and philanthropist Faye Straus. 

Many of the PAC’s advisors have ties to the larger progressive movement. Among them are Alexandra Rojas, the executive director of Justice Democrats, and Sean McElwee, a co-founder of the nonprofit think tank Data for Progress.

Way to Lead hopes to target what Ancona calls “high potential” voters, including young people who don’t always participate in elections. Ancona says they aren’t looking to focus on publishing ads that attack President Donald Trump but, instead, produce spots that have a bigger-picture story on the importance of voting in the upcoming election. 

Their first digital ad, called “What’s Possible,” highlights what the group believes is a future under policies that match the Democratic Party’s platform, such as the raising of wages and fighting back against climate change, and contrasts with what’s taken place under President Donald Trump. It shows video of recent protests that occurred after the police killing of George Floyd, calls out tax cuts for the highest earners and ends with a slate that says “vote Democrats.” 

The platform for the PAC’s candidates, according to a general overview of the group provided to CNBC, is to embrace “bold progressive values and policies on economic justice, climate, democracy reform, racial and gender justice, gun violence prevention, housing, anti-militarization, and other issues.” 

Way to Win itself has been extremely active since its founding nearly three years ago. 

It published a playbook during the Democratic primary, calling for a “discussion about how best to move our country forward” and not a “popularity contest.” 

The public preview of the playbook shows Way to Win encouraged voters to ask candidates a wide range of questions, such as what are the priorities for the first 100 days in office and do candidates support the Green New Deal and “Medicare for All.” 

Joe Biden is the Democratic nominee for president and is against Medicare for All. 

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