In the latest sign that Hillary Clinton is looking ahead to the general election, the Democratic frontrunner’s campaign has signed an agreement with the Democratic Nation Committee party allowing her to raise additional funds for the November 2016 contest.
The agreement lets Clinton raise funds in excess of $2,700 from individual donors, the limit candidates can raise in primary dollars. The additional amount goes to a fund managed by the DNC and can be used to help the Democratic nominee in a general election.
“In the face of unlimited soft money donations from billionaires funding the Republicans, Democrats will need a strong effort to counter and we are glad for the opportunity to work with the DNC on this,” Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, said in a statement.
Clinton and the DNC have agreed to coordinate fundraising far earlier in the cycle than in previous years. In the last Democratic primary, then-Sen. Barack Obama didn’t sign a similar agreement with the DNC until May 2008. By signing the agreement early, Clinton can lay the groundwork for a tough general election contest against the Republican nominee—a contest most Democrats expect her to fight.
The Clinton campaign raised more than $45 million in the first fundraising quarter of the campaign, three times the amount her next rival for the nomination, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. But the pro-Clinton super PAC, Priorities USA has been struggling to bring in big-dollar donations compared with Republicans: Jeb Bush’s campaign and super PAC raised well over $100 million in the last quarter, while Priorities raised just $15 million.
Clinton can now effectively double the amount she is raising during house party fundraisers, and hand over the excess to a war chest controlled by the DNC. The DNC will then manage and allocate the money, spending it on technology, voter outreach, advertising and media. “This funding will go toward the eventual nominee, whoever that is,” a source with the campaign said. “We are confident that will be Hillary Clinton, but thought getting the fundraising going now was important.”
Though Clinton aides say she is squarely focused on the primary, she has kept an eye on November 2016. The frontrunner has recently increased her attacks on Republicans for their views on women’s health and voting rights, and invested in a 50-state effort to secure support across the country at the start of her campaign. She has also held numerous events in general election swing states.
Supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley have accused the DNC of being biased in favor of a Clinton candidacy. They’ve pointed in particular to the schedule of six debates, which they argue is designed to limit Clinton’s exposure on a national stage.
The DNC said it hopes to sign similar agreements with the other Democratic candidates soon.
“The DNC has an impressive track record with presidential elections. Through this agreement and others we will sign with our party’s candidates, we are building the organization we will need now to make sure that whoever our nominee is, they are in the best possible position to win next November,” DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in a statement.
The agreement was announced to state party chairs and members at the DNC’s summer meeting in Minneapolis on Thursday afternoon.