The effort to draft Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren into the 2016 presidential race received a major boost Wednesday evening, as the Howard Dean-founded group Democracy for America formally joined MoveOn.org's "Run Warren Run" campaign and announced it would invest $250,000 in the effort.
DFA will announce the move at the campaign's Iowa kickoff rally, slated to be held in Des Moines at 5:30 p.m. local time. The decision comes one week after MoveOn members voted overwhelmingly in favor of the organization's $1 million campaign to draft Warren. Last week, the one million-member DFA announced its intention to join the campaign, but waited for its members to vote on the matter before formally doing so. The group said on Wednesday that 88 percent of members voted in support of the plan.
The MoveOn/DFA campaign will involve opening field offices in Iowa and New Hampshire, the first states to vote in the presidential primary season; running advertisements in support of Warren; cultivating small donors; and mobilizing grassroots supporters.
According to DFA, its focus in the Run Warren Run campaign will be on training volunteers and campaign staff and developing a nationwide strategy to rally support behind the freshman senator, who has galvanized progressives with her fierce criticism of Wall Street and income inequality. The group's "50-state strategy" echoes Dean's effort as chairman of the Democratic National Committee to field competitive candidates in every state.
Charles Chamberlain, DFA's executive director, hailed Warren as a candidate uniquely attuned to the challenges of the times.
“The battle against income inequality is a defining issue of the 2016 race," Chamberlain said in a statement. "Senator Warren is Democrats’ most powerful voice in the fight against income inequality, capable of rallying our country to take aggressive action to protect struggling working families, hold powerful special interests accountable, and end the wealthy’s grip on government."
For her part, Warren continues to insist that she's "not running for president," but she has yet to definitively state that she would not do so under any circumstances.
Annie Weinberg, DFA's electoral director, said the group realizes it may be an uphill battle to convince Warren to make the race.
“Democracy for America members aren’t under the delusion that it is going to be easy to prove the Beltway pundits wrong and encourage Senator Warren to enter the 2016 race. If Senator Warren, were already running, there’d be no reason to launch a draft campaign in the first place," Weinberg said.
While Chamberlain said that DFA is "all in" on the pro-Warren effort, the group's founder intends to support Hillary Clinton, whom some progressives view with suspicion because of her hawkish, corporate-friendly centrism. Dean wrote in Politico Magazine last week that Clinton would be "a mature, seasoned, thoughtful leader at a time when maturity and thoughtfulness are increasingly rare commodities in Washington, D.C."
In response to Dean's op-ed, Chamberlain stated last week, "We've said from the very beginning of our discussions of 2016 that one of DFA's top priorities will be ensuring that the battle for the Democratic nomination is a contest, not a coronation. Our members clearly agree with that priority which is why we're planning to work on drafting Warren into the Presidential race and aren't ready to follow the Governor's lead in making an early endorsement of Clinton."