Just 24 hours after announcing his candidacy, Senator Bernie Sanders raised $6 million in small-dollar contributions, averaging $27 per donation. As the field of candidates continues to grow, small-dollar donors are proving once again, as they did in the 2018 midterms, that they will play a pivotal role in the election. With the first primaries a year away, it is clear that candidates’ successes will depend on their ability to raise contributions from small-dollar grassroots supporters, not wealthy mega-donors and special interest PACs.
One after another, as candidates throw their hats into the ring, they are decrying the influence of special interests and dark money in our political system. So far, 12 out of 12 Democratic 2020 presidential candidates have pledged to reject corporate PAC money. Others who are still considering whether to run, like Senator Sherrod Brown, have followed suit.
The list of Democratic candidates refusing the money now includes: Senators Bernie Sanders, Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Representatives Tulsi Gabbard and John Delaney, Secretary Julian Castro, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Andrew Yang, and Marianne Williamson.
The Democratic National Committee announced that candidates can qualify for debates by meeting a grassroots fundraising threshold, ensuring that small-dollar donors represent a new early metric of success in an increasingly crowded Democratic field.
This shift from past DNC debate vetting attests to the momentum of the reform movement that helped elect 36 new Democratic Representatives, more than half of the freshman class, who rejected corporate money in 2018 and put reform at the top of legislative agenda in the new Congress. Now, reform is taking center stage in the race for the White House.
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