Several leading Democrats are quietly making appeals to Wall Street donors as they make plans to announce their intentions to run for the presidency.
According to CNBC, Senators Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) and Kamala Harris (D-California) have been meeting with wealthy, Democratic-leaning Wall Street donors in order to gauge their level of support for their prospective presidential campaigns. This comes after news that Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) was also meeting with finance industry executives about her potential campaign:
Billionaire and Blackstone Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Gray; Robert Wolf, CEO and founder of economic advisory firm 32 Advisors, and Mark Gallogly, a founder of private investment firm Centerbridge Partners, are just a few of the Democratic financiers who have spoken with 2020 hopefuls about a wide range of topics, including the upcoming campaign, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter.
…Booker also recently met with a top New York donor who described the encounter to CNBC on the condition of anonymity. “I had tea a while ago with Cory,” this person said. “The meetings aren’t officially about running, but of course they are about running in 2020.” Booker seemed to be trying to see whether this financier could help raise money for a White House run, according to the person.
The news of these Democrats’ interest in getting the support of Wall Street donors flies in the face of the progressive credentials they’ve laboriously built during their time in the U.S. Senate. As members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sens. Booker and Harris had a national platform during the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, when they both aggressively questioned him about his record as a federal judge and the multiple accusations of sexual misconduct against him.
For her part, Sen. Gillibrand became a leading national figure among Senate Democrats when she led the charge to push former Senator Al Franken (D-Minnesota) to resign after eight women accused him of sexual misconduct. In 2017, Gillibrand made headlines for using profanity in a speech about the Trump administration at New York University. She also voted against more of Trump’s cabinet nominees than any other member of her caucus.
Supporters of Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) will likely take note of Sens. Booker, Harris, and Gillibrand courting Wall Street donors during the 2020 Democratic primary. While Sanders has not yet declared his presidential campaign and Warren has, both have cast themselves as populists refusing donations from billionaires, super PACs, and corporations. Warren recently called on all 2020 candidates to pledge to not only eschew super PAC money, but also to refuse to self-fund — a direct shot across the bow at potential billionaire presidential candidates like Michael Bloomberg and Mark Zuckerberg.
Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.