Top Democrat donors on Wall Street tell FOX Business they are waiting on Joe Biden, former vice president, to announce his 2020 intentions before writing any big checks to other Democratic presidential hopefuls.
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The heavy-hitting financiers, who have been instrumental in helping past Democrats such as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton secure the nomination, are wary of the cast of progressives including Kamala Harris, Julian Castro, and Kirsten Gillibrand who have thus far announced their presidential bids. This has prompted Biden to ramp up his 2020 focus and potential strategy, especially in recent weeks.
Biden, however, will have strong support from the Wall Street Democrats replete in financial firms who are drawn to his moderate views and believe he may bring stability to the financial markets; the candidate began speaking with finance executives about a possible run as early as summer of 2017 as reported by FOX Business.
One key difference with fundraising for the 2020 election is that “there is no Clinton machine demanding immediate loyalty,” notes a source with knowledge of the matter. Bill and Hillary Clinton, who dominated the Democratic party, spent years cultivating relations with financial firms and foreign leaders through speaking engagements, media appearances, and their nonprofit organization, The Clinton Foundation. When Hillary ran in both 2008 and 2016, the infrastructure was already in place for her to rally volunteers and secure large donations.
Notably, some frontrunners like Sen. Elizabeth Warren [D-MASS] and Sen. Bernie Sanders [D-VT], have shunned Wall Street donations, instead positioning themselves as populist candidates looking to fight elite financiers. Relying on smaller, individual contributions will be central to some candidates’ campaign messages.
Sen. Kamala Harris [D-CA] appears to be implementing this strategy successfully, just 24-hours after announcing her campaign, she has raised $1.5 million with the average donation estimated at $37.
This is a marked difference from the approach taken by Obama—who relied heavily on influential donors including Mark Gallogly, who runs Centerbridge Partners, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, and Former Lehman Brothers CEO Dick Fuld, to provide him with “seed money” to launch his campaign. It was only after the initial round of funding, that he focused on raising smaller donations from individuals.
Ironically, the very people who are encouraging Biden to run may pose a threat to his credibility in a Democratic party that has increasingly embraced progressive, and in the case of Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, even socialist, policies. But Biden appears to be in lockstep at least with his predecessors, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, who didn’t shy away from depending on Wall Street to raise big money for their campaigns.
Confidence however will not be a concern for Biden. Just last month, Biden publicly stated he was “the most qualified person in the country to be president,” but has yet to say anything beyond that. He has been touring the country promoting the paperback version of his best-selling book, “Promise Me Dad.”
He is expected to make a decision either this month or next.