Ready for Hillary group holds Columbia fundraiser
The next United States presidential election is more than two-and-a-half years away, and Hillary Clinton has not yet announced whether she will be a candidate, but a vocal group of supporters gathered Thursday night in Columbia to let the former U.S. Secretary of State, senator and first lady know they want her to be in the race.
The event, which drew a crowd of around 100 to 701 Whaley, was a fundraiser for the Ready for Hillary political action committee. State Rep. Bakari Sellers, also a candidate in the race to be the state’s next lieutenant governor, was one of the hosts of the event.
Sellers said that while he cannot endorse a candidate who has not yet entered the race, he wanted to be part of the event to build excitement among South Carolina Democrats and others.
“I want to utilize this as a vessel to let people know what’s going on,” Sellers said. “The Republican Party has done a great job in the South sucking the life out of Democrats and moderates and all who believe in what is right. There’s nothing else like this event going on in South Carolina right now and it’s my job to be part of it.”
Jonathan Metcalf, political director for the Upstate of South Carolina during President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, is the lead volunteer for Ready for Hillary PAC in South Carolina. He said the goal of the Thursday event was not only to raise money but to let “Secretary Clinton know in no uncertain terms that she has grass-roots support here.”
Also on hand for the event were former Democratic National Committee Chairman Donald Fowler, U.S. Senate candidate and former adviser to President Obama Rick Wade and South Carolina Secretary of State candidate Ginny Deerin.
Tickets to the event cost $20.16. Ready for Hillary Black Americans Director Quentin James said small donations are the key to success in a modern campaign.
“You have to have an army of grass-roots donors,” he added.
Sellers quoted Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in saying, “We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now,” in reference to holding events like this one with the presidential election still distant. “We can’t wait to build excitement in 2016. It’s too far away. I want to build excitement now.”
Metcalf said the grass-roots organization for Clinton also could work in favor of Democratic candidates for office this year and next in South Carolina.
“We want to let people know they’re not powerless to do something about things they read about in the newspaper and disagree with,” he said.
Sellers and Metcalf, while making it clear that Clinton was not yet a candidate, also said they thought the time might be ripe for the election of a female U.S. president.
Asked how he would respond to those who say Clinton could not win in 2016, Metcalf said with a smile, “I was a political director for President Obama’s campaign, and people said a black man could never be elected President.”
Sellers also mentioned Obama’s success, and added, “We can achieve absolutely anything we want to achieve if we dream with our eyes open. If she [Clinton] is ready to dream with her eyes open, we’re ready to accept her.