I found myself last week talking with Ed Rendell, former Pennsylvania governor and former Philadelphia mayor, about Hillary Clinton and how politicians of a certain age evaluate their prospects.
“I’m not as convinced as much as everybody else that Hillary’s running,” he said. Rendell said the former Secretary of State, unlike most former elected officials, has the stature to have a real impact on public policy the next 10 years out of office if she wants to.
“Everyone around her wants her to run, of course,” he said. If she runs and wins, he said, she makes history, but subjects herself to “10 years of withering stress.” Tough call.
One thing’s clear — if she does decide to take the plunge, she won’t have to start building an organization from scratch.
Ready for Hillary is a super PAC registered in January, and when Clinton was here Tuesday to receive the Liberty Medal, I skipped the ceremony and instead checked in on a gathering of Ready for Hillary members at a city tavern.
Danny Bauder, a union activist and committeeman in Northeast Philadelphia’s 57th Ward, was one of about 40 or so Hillarians at Finnegan’s Wake on Spring Garden Street.
“We are a grassroots group that are coming together and saying to Hillary, ‘look, the ball’s in your court, but if you decide to run, we’re your team,'” he told me.
Clinton could have used more volunteers when she ran in 2008. It was often reported in that long campaign that the Obama campaign did a better job at training and mobilizing a field army to handle the nuts and bolts of getting delegates, particularly in caucus states.
One of her partisans then was Melissa Frey, 39, born to a Republican family in Lancaster County but a proud Democrat who worked for Hillary Clinton in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
She’s in Ready for Hillary with both feet, and said there will be no shortage of troops if Clinton runs again.
“Ready for Hillary started off this year with a post office box and two very dedicated volunteers,” she told me. “And now Ready for Hillary has over 850,000 members.”
The group has managed to raise some impressive money, too, considering it’s a pre-campaign. The group reported in July it had raised $1.2 million.
It’s interesting that the group registered as a Super PAC, which allows it to take unlimited contributions and accept checks from unions and corporations.
Organizers say 97 percent of their contributions are for $100 or less, and they’ve publicly committed to taking no contributions larger than $25,000 and no corporate donations.
You can see some of their larger contributors here, including Philadelphia attorney David Berger.
Seems they have everything going for them — except a candidate.