2020 Democratic presidential candidate and Senator Kamala Harris talks during the Presidential Gun Sense Forum in Des Moines, Iowa, August 10, 2019.
Scott Morgan | Reuters
Sen. Kamala Harris’ top donors, such as individuals who have donated or opened their networks to her, are privately admitting that if she does not work well on Thursday, she could begin losing the support of wealthy financiers.
In talks with donors and people near lead financiers, there’s an increasing consensus that the California lawmaker should have a solid outing against the nine other contenders if she would like to keep an alliance with many big money donors who have contributed to multiple campaigns, such as hers.
While she only increased $12 million in the second quarter, Harris came to the race being considered by donors both on Wall Street and within other sectors as the preferred alternative to former Vice President Joe Biden. Out of all of the money she’s raised during the first half of this year, $14 million, or 56 percent, came from large individual gifts, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. A number of these kinds of donors watched her as an up-and-coming celebrity with moderate policy suggestions. For many, she still is.
However, for others, the competition in Houston has been considered a critical opportunity for Harris to recover the confidence of the money class and solidify her position against Biden following a disappointing second discussion.
The anticipation was high for her. She came out so strong from the initial debate and she kind of cratered,” said one senior New York banking executive that has attended numerous Harris events. “She must prove to people today that she is still that alternative to Biden. She is going to have a serious problem on her hands if she can not do that.”
A person near one of Harris’s bundlers was even more blunt on what donors want from Harris. “Something, anything attention grabbing,” this person said, adding donors will “stay away” if she does not show up.
One of Harris’ financial supporters on Wall Street simply emailed back”to perform well,” when asked what donors hope to see out of her on Thursday.
A member of a Hollywood titan stated that donors will be watching very carefully if Harris can replicate her first argument performance before they decide whether to continue to assist her. When asked what they’re searching for, this person said”The sort of calmness and presence she exhibited at the first argument.”
Following the first debate, Harris was praised for carrying on Biden, which included an assault on his previous record working with segregationists as a member of the U.S. Senate. She had been criticized for failing to create the same effect months later when she confronted Biden again in the next debate and ever since that time, has seen a fall in the polls. She now paths Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders, according to a Real Clear Politics polling average.
Rufus Gifford, President Barack Obama’s former ambassador to Denmark and his reelection campaign finance manager, explained that each the candidates will be seeking to make an impact as the next quarter comes to a conclusion.
“I believe that the next debate is quite important for everybody. Especially those in tier 2 and want to break into grade 1,” he told CNBC.
A Harris spokesperson didn’t return a request for comment.
However, irrespective of what happens in Texas, Harris is planning to jump back on the fundraising course with a core group of fans.
The day after the debate, she’ll stay in Houston for the first of two dozen fundraisers that will happen throughout the nation over the course of the next two weeks, according to a private emailed list of forthcoming donor events.
The forthcoming money making stops include parties in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Seattle and Los Angeles. The invites reveal that while in L.A., Harris will be hosted by a slew of Hollywood insiders like actor Don Cheadle, Executive Vice President of Warner Brothers Julian Petty, higher profile lawyer Matt Johnson, and movie producer Ellen Goldsmith-Vein, together with her husband, Jon Vein.