Liberal groups spend millions blocking GOP deniers

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LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, one of the nation’s top political donors, gathered more than a dozen billionaires or their representatives on Zoom Friday to sound the alarm about the upcoming election.

“MAGA leaders intend to use the 2022 midterm victories to install Trump in 2024 regardless of the vote,” read a slide from the PowerPoint Hoffman presented to the group, which was obtained by the Washington. Post.

He offered some of the wealthiest people in the country an apocalyptic idea that has become a growing obsession within the liberal donor community. Another slide, titled “How MAGA Midterms Can Install Trump,” presented a hypothetical step-by-step scenario: Republicans win statewide offices in key battleground states in 2022 , then amend state laws in 2023 to give legislatures control over presidential voters. After the next presidential election, they declare the inner city votes “tainted” and nullify the popular vote by sending their own voters list to Washington.

The purpose of the presentation – described by a person familiar with the group who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations – was to raise tens of millions of dollars for groups the PowerPoint described as capable of increase Democratic turnout, persuade swing voters to vote Democratic and “dissuade” Republican voters from going to the polls.

Pouring liberal money into midterm elections to elect Democrats is nothing new. What’s different about this new strategy is that much of the 2022 effort is actually aimed at 2024 – attempting to prevent Republican deniers of the 2020 election from gaining power and potentially upsetting valid election results. a presidential election year.

The Hoffman-led strategy — born out of President Donald Trump’s efforts to cancel the 2020 election — has diverted some of the focus from the races in the federal House and Senate and to the governor’s battleground. state and secretary of state races, election administrator contests, and even ballot measures to protect ballot access and tabulation.

Some donors fund candidates and state parties directly, while others funnel funds into state-level groups that run direct mail and digital ads. Others are funding new opposition research efforts, recruiting candidates for local election supervisor races, and creating online news websites and Facebook groups designed to get people to the polls.

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The magnitude of the spending is difficult to calculate because much of it was funneled through state-specific or niche nonprofit groups that do not disclose their donors. But those involved in the effort have described multiple parallel efforts that could run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

“Our theory starts with the Electoral College map in 2024,” said Scott Anderson, executive director of the Strategic Victory Fund, a separate group of liberal donors that has spent more than $450 million on campaign and nonprofit work since. 2017.

This year, the group decided to spend money in just five 2024 battleground states, primarily by funding an array of nonprofit groups at the state level. The targets are Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Nevada, where Democratic governors have so far pushed back on Republican efforts to change the way the election is run.

“The immediacy of this election for us is how do we have a veto pen and the ability to hold the veto in those five states,” Anderson said. “The legislatures of these states have made it clear that if they had a governor, they would pass a whole list of things.”

The Democracy Alliance, another group of liberal donors, devoted much of its spring donor conference in Arizona to funding ideas to retaliate against Republican efforts to change election rules. Among the funding priorities this year: a ballot measure in Arizona that would expand access to the vote and prevent legislatures from appointing voters who do not follow the popular vote. Alliance for Democracy donors are also funding an effort in Missouri to support candidates for the state Supreme Court, which could rule on election challenges in 2024.

“Democracy is the central issue of our time,” group chair Pamela Shifman said in her opening remarks at the closed-door event, according to a transcript provided to the Post. “It calls us all to the field. That’s why we’re all here.

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Run for Something, a liberal group dedicated to recruiting more Democratic candidates into local races, has a three-year, $80 million goal for an effort to recruit and train candidates for election administration positions in 35 states across the country. They’ve already helped about 200 candidates pass presidential battleground primaries, said Amanda Litman, the group’s co-founder.

“You can literally influence who administers elections,” Litman said, pointing to conservative strategies discussed on Q-Anon message boards and former Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon’s War Room podcast. “If we don’t, we will absolutely regret it.”

American Bridge, a Democratic opposition research group, launched a new arm last year to raise $10 million to uncover and spread negative information about downstate GOP candidates, especially those involved in efforts to overturn the 2020 election result.

“It’s definitely a sea change in terms of donor interest versus voting on the Democratic side,” said David Brock, the founder of American Bridge, an opposition research group used throughout the Democratic Party. “The Bridge to Democracy PAC is one of the easiest things to fundraise for right now.”

The Strategic Victory Fund sent much of its money to state-specific nonprofit groups engaged in a variety of organizing and advertising against GOP candidates. They include Progress Michigan, A Better Wisconsin Together, the Alliance for a Better Minnesota, and Commonwealth Communications in Pennsylvania, which announced a $6 million effort with Planned Parenthood and the Democratic Governors Association to oppose the Republican candidate for office. of Gov. Doug Mastriano, a state senator who has urged fellow state lawmakers to reject the state’s 2020 election results.

“We’re going to get people talking to people about this race,” said JJ Abbott, executive director of Commonwealth Communications, who said the effort will include attacks on his positions on unions, abortion and minimum wage. . “They are going to be aware of the threat that Doug Mastriano poses to democracy. But they definitely need to hear the whole story about him.

In Wisconsin, state Democratic Party Chairman Ben Wikler said he has seen marked increased interest in Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ re-election effort due to concerns over the administration of the elections. 2024.

“The threat of a Republican who in 2024 is trying to complete what failed in 2020 has been a huge motivator for donor volunteers big and small, for people who want to fight for democracy almost independently of their politics,” Wikler said. “The importance to the whole country of the governor’s race has become an argument that resonates in all parts of the state.”

Another group of liberal, bipartisan foundations plan to launch a nonpartisan effort later this year, dubbed the Roadmap to American Democracy. The group, led by Deirdre Schifeling, the former White House advocacy director for President Biden, plans to fund efforts to prevent election rule changes that could limit access or skew the outcome, tackle harassment election workers and counter misinformation around elections.

“We generally prepare to defend our democratic system when it comes under attack this fall,” Schifeling said.

Hoffman’s effort — organized by a group called Investing in US, which involves a network of private donors — is one of the most aggressive. He declined to comment for this story through a spokesperson.

Among the proposed beneficiaries of his latest push is Good Information, a network of online news websites with names like Copper Courier in Arizona and The Gander in Michigan that donors hope will encourage Democratic turnout in the medium term, said the person familiar with the group. The group is also seeking funding for the American Independent, a project affiliated with American Bridge, which sends targeted materials to voters ahead of the election, as well as more moderate groups like Third Way.

PowerPoint slides presented by Hoffman painted a stark view of the upcoming election season, noting that “Democrats have little time to hold onto Congress” and the chances of Democrats picking governors in Texas, New Hampshire , Florida and Arizona are unlikely. It also outlines the powers under the United States Constitution for state legislatures that determine how they choose presidential electors.

“States have long delegated choice to popular vote, but this is reversible,” one of the slides reads. “Trump only needs 37 voters to swing from 2020.”

Dmitri Mehlhorn, co-founder of Invest USA, declined to comment on the PowerPoint or the meeting beyond one detail: The PowerPoint describes a fundraising goal of “deterring” and “reducing enthusiasm of some voters.

“Patriotic Republicans should not be enthusiastic about voting for these dangerous MAGA extremists who have taken over their party,” Mehlhorn wrote in an email about the strategy. “We are comfortable saying that, as are principled Republican leaders.”

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