Leading super PAC endorses Rodham Clinton before official bid

DeadlineNews1PhotoMarissaBy Marissa Donnelly | gargoyle@flagler.edu

Priorities USA Action, the nation’s largest liberal super PAC, aligned itself last week with Hillary Rodham Clinton for the 2016 presidential election. The announcement came before the former secretary of state’s official declaration for candidacy.

“Our group is 95 percent sure Hillary will run,” said Nell Toensmann, chair of the St. Johns County Democratic Party. The group meets every Wednesday in St. Augustine for Blue Bag Lunch, a discussion about current political events.

“If she does run, I believe her chances of receiving the nomination are very strong,” First Vice Chair Jerry Urbanec said. “Though I am always wary when a non-incumbent seems to be a lock from day one. This gives the GOP a long time to run against just her. It makes for a rough road.”

Urbanec’s ideal ticket is Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts senator, and Robert Reich, former President Bill Clinton’s secretary of labor. “I believe a Warren and Reich ticket would be strong,” Urbanec said. “I would then like to see Rodham Clinton on the Supreme Court, but I won’t hold my breath waiting for the country to yield to my preferences.”

Founded in 2012 by two former aides of President Barack Obama, PUA played a pivotal role in his re-election. “Political action committees have raised the bar in terms of what everybody has to do to have a say in what’s happening politically,” Toensmann said.

The super PAC spent over $65 million in independent expenditures and communication costs in 2012, according to opensecrets.org, with over 2,500 donors contributing at least $200 each.

PUA recently named Obama’s 2012 campaign manager Jim Messina and former Michigan Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm as co-chairs of the 2016 presidential election cycle. Diana Rogalle was named finance director.

“Having played a critical role in 2012, Priorities USA Action has very clearly demonstrated its ability to help elect a Democratic president,” Messina was quoted in an official PUA statement. “We intend to replicate that role and its success again in 2016, defining a clear choice for the American public.”

The New York Times reported on Jan. 23 that PUA has already obtained six and seven-figure dollar checks to power advertising support for Rodham Clinton.

“For any woman to attain any position she has to prove herself, and be doubly qualified compared to the man she is replacing,” said Annette Cappella, state committee representative of the St. Johns County Democratic Party. “Someone like Hillary has come through the ranks. She’s a pioneer.”

PUA will work closely with other groups, including Ready for Hillary, a grass-roots super PAC, in anticipation of a Clinton bid.

“No one is anointed to the presidency, it’s a long road. Often, the earliest favorites find themselves derailed before the big party begins,” Urbanec said. “It should be interesting to see how a long primary period could play out for Rodham Clinton.”

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