Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, joined by his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks during a campaign event at Alexis Dupont High School in Wilmington, Del., Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
By BRIAN SLODYSKO and WILL WEISSERT
WILMINGTON, Del – Japan Today
Joe Biden raised $26 million in the 24 hours after he named Kamala Harris as his running mate, doubling his previous one-day record and signaling enthusiasm among Democrats following the selection of the first Black woman on a major party’s presidential ticket.
“It’s really palpable, the excitement,” Biden said Wednesday.
The campaign hopes the haul is the beginning of a prolific fundraising push in the final stretch before Election Day. Democrats are close to matching, if not surpassing, the massive $300 million cash stockpile President Donald Trump and Republicans reported in July.
Harris is expected to play a key role in that effort. She joined Biden in Delaware on Wednesday for their first fundraiser together as running mates, where she talked to grassroots donors about how her parents’ activism inspired her interest in politics.
“This is a campaign that really fuels my hope because it is about knowing that this is fighting for something and not against something and it’s fighting for the best we are as a nation,” Harris said. “It’s fighting for the best of who we can be.”
With large in-person events out of the question due to the pandemic, the campaign has an aggressive schedule of online fundraisers planned for Harris. That could play to one of her political strengths and offset an area where Biden has sometimes struggled.
Harris already has a robust network of donors in her native California, a state that has long been referred to as the ATM of the Democratic Party. She can rake in cash from Wall Street. And Harris, who is also of Asian descent, has the potential to bring new money into the Democratic fold due to the historic nature of her candidacy.
“To have someone on the ticket whose mother is from the south of India is a dream come true,” said Swadesh Chatterjee, a businessman from North Carolina who also raises money for political candidates. “You will see more fundraising from the Indian American community.”
Lisa Hernandez Gioia, who was a deputy finance director for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, called Harris a “fundraiser’s dream.”
“Donors already have an eagerness,” she said. “She adds the star power that will be like an afternoon shot of espresso to the campaign’s fundraising.”
Before it was clear he would win the Democratic nomination, Biden was never a particularly successful fundraiser. As a longtime senator from Delaware, a small, solidly blue state, he never had to cultivate a national network of donors. And party fundraisers have long grumbled that he lacked the same touch with donors that he has shown when working a rope line.
Biden’s campaign was virtually broke the time he won the South Carolina primary, which revived his prospects and powered his way to the Democratic nomination. And while his clinching of the nomination has led to a flood of campaign contributions, some believe Harris can juice totals even higher.
Yet Harris, who dropped out of the Democratic primary last year, has had her own struggles with fundraising.
She launched her presidential bid in early 2019 and raised $15.5 million by mid-March, an impressive showing at an early stage in the race. But her campaign hemorrhaged money. And while she wowed well-heeled donors, she struggled to develop a competitive base of grassroots contributors who chip in small amounts online, a phenomenon that fueled the fundraising success of rivals Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
But there are also big differences between a primary and the general election, where agreements struck between the nominee and the party enable massive checks to be raised from individual donors.
Already there are signs that suggest Harris is seeing some success.
Act Blue, the left’s online fundraising arm, reported taking in almost $11 million in the hours after the Harris announcement. And Biden aides later said the flood of money generated by the Harris announcement broke the online fundraising platform’s all-time one-day record for a campaign.
“The primary campaign folding early was not indicative of a lack of fundraising ability,” said Bakari Sellers, a CNN commentator and prominent Harris supporter from South Carolina. “Kamala is going to raise money and it’s going to be money that wouldn’t otherwise be raised.”
The connections Harris makes fundraising now will serve her well in the future. At 55, she has years left in her political career. That could give her a leg up on the competition in 2024 or later.
Steve Westly, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist who has known Harris for over 20 years, said her dynamic presence serves her well the staid world of political fundraising.
“She’s animated, she’s smart and she’s lively. And this is in a world of bland, cautious, older Caucasian men,” said Westly. “She is going to do very well.”