Ready for Hillary, the super PAC formed last year to lay the groundwork for a potential repeat White House bid by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, says it raised $1.7 million in the first quarter of the year, months before Clinton is expected to decided whether to mount another bid for commander-in-chief.
The haul brings the group's total, two years before the Democratic primaries, to more than $5.75 million since its inception over a year ago. The sum, while lower than what has been raised by others contemplating a 2016 run, is a strong sign of support for Clinton, who has effectively locked-up the Democratic field until her decision, and is the largest war chest collected by a 2016-focused outside group. After a slow start, the group has received the blessing and support of many Clinton insiders, including Craig Smith, Harold Ickes, Ellen Tauscher, and James Carville, and is believed to have the tacit support of Clinton herself.
The group, focused on list-building and grassroots events, has set a voluntary donation cap of $25,000 and is just one element of the burgeoning pro-Clinton effort, which also includes Priorities USA, the former Obama super PAC, and Correct the Record, an offshoot of the liberal research American Bridge. Priorities USA is focusing its efforts on top-dollar donors, bringing on former Obama campaign manager Jim Messina as co-chair, but has yet to report fundraising numbers for the quarter.
Ready for Hillary has spent the better part of the last year holding events around the country in early states and outside of paid Clinton appearances to build support for the former First Lady. It brought on veterans of President Barack Obama's campaign to manage its grassroots organizing strategy, and also maintains a robust online store selling Clinton apparel and paraphernalia, with purchases counting as donations to the organization. The group says it had more than 22,000 new donors during the quarter, with an average contribution of $53.
The organization has come under fire from some fellow Democrats for shifting the party's focus to 2016 when the party is desperately struggling to maintain control of the Senate this fall. Ready for Hillary has said it will support candidates that Clinton has publicly backed. Clinton has said she will decide whether to pursue the Oval Office sometime this year, though a decision is not expected before November's midterm elections.