Wealthy Donors Launch New Plan to Help Democrats Regain Control in the States

April 14, 2015

A cadre of wealthy liberal donors aims to pour tens of millions of dollars into rebuilding the left’s political might in the states, racing to catch up with a decades-old conservative effort that has reshaped statehouses across the country.

The plan embraced by the Democracy Alliance, an organization that advises some of the Democrats’ top contributors, puts an urgent new focus on financing groups that can help the party regain influence in time for the next congressional redistricting process, after the 2020 elections. The blueprint approved by the alliance board calls on donors to help expand state-level organizing and lobbying for measures addressing climate change, voting rights and economic inequality.

“People have gotten a wake-up call,” Gara LaMarche, the alliance’s president, said in an interview. “The right is focused on the state level, and even down-ballot, and has made enormous gains. We can’t have the kind of long-term progressive future we want if we don’t take power in the states.”

The five-year initiative, called 2020 Vision, will be discussed this week at a private conference being held at a San Francisco hotel for donors who participate in the Democracy Alliance. Leading California Democrats are scheduled to make appearances, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and California Attorney General Kamala Harris. The alliance, which does not disclose its members, plans to make some of the events available to reporters via a webcast.

The gathering coincides with the long-awaited launch of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential bid, infusing the event with buzz about the 2016 race. Clinton, who was invited to attend, will instead be on her debut campaign swing. But her campaign chairman, John Podesta, who has worked closely with the alliance, is set to participate in events celebrating its decade-long history.

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