Hillary Clinton has a secret fundraising weapon in the 2016 election for president that could significantly boost her numbers, and it’s not her husband, former president Bill Clinton.
It’s the 3 million women affiliated with progressive activist organization, EMILY’s List, which has grown its membership by five times since Clinton’s 2008 run and doubled its donors.
Founded on premise of protecting abortion rights, EMILY’s List will only support female candidates who are pro-choice.
It has already endorsed Clinton for the White House, as she’s the only woman running who backs abortion, and is on track to raise more than $60 million this election cycle for her and other female candidates running for office from across the country.
‘Hillary Clinton is by far the most qualified person to be the Democratic nominee, and she just happens to be a woman,’ said Marcy Stech, EMILY’s List Communications Director.
Stech said Clinton has a record ‘second to none’ of championing causes that benefit women and families.
‘It’s clear that the country’s ready for it. It’s the right time, and she’s the right candidate,’ she said.
The more than $60 million that EMILY’s List plans to raise for the upcoming cycle comes through its independent expenditures, including its Madame President project, political action committee and bundling for chosen female candidates.
In 2012 it raised more than $52 million. It increased that amount to more than $60 million in 2014. Now, with Clinton expected to be at the top of the Democratic ticket, EMILY’s List is energizing and broadening its base of donors – and female candidates – like never before.
Call it the ‘Hillary effect,’ if you will.
EMILY’s List is hesitant to slap that label on its latest round of recruits because it’s been grooming many of the female candidates it’s supporting this cycle for years now. But it admits that Clinton’s presumptive nomination for president has inspired its members to seek elected office, as well.
‘Our members and candidates are excited about Hillary,’ Stech said, in no small part because Clinton is talking about the issues their candidates ‘care so deeply about, and they can often speak from their own personal experience of balancing family, work and economic challenges.’
Clinton has made traditional women’s issues such as paycheck fairness, paid sick leave and access to preventative health measures, in addition to continued health insurance coverage of birth control under Obamacare, central themes of her campaign.
EMILY’s List didn’t set out to fight for those issues when founder Ellen Malcolm, an alumnae of Jimmy Carter’s administration and the multi-partisan National Women’s Political Caucus, and two dozen like-minded women planted the organization’s first seeds in 1985.
Back then, it was focused solely on funding pro-choice women’s bids for elected office. Malcolm’s theory was that ‘Early Money Is Like Yeast’ (EMILY) – it makes the dough rise.
The group’s efforts were immediately validated when Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, one of their two test cases, became the first woman to win a U.S. Senate election in 1986. Mikulski will likewise hold the title as the longest serving female federal lawmaker when she retires in January of 2017.
Malcolm, who served as a co-chair of Clinton’s first presidential campaign in 2007, stepped back from day-to-day operations at EMILY’s List in 2010 after 25 years at the helm, and Democratic strategist Stephanie Schriock was brought in to oversee the influential women’s group.
EMILY’s List has expanded its messaging in recent years beyond the cause of abortion, made legal by the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case in 1973, to encompass other issues of importance to women.
‘Republicans come up with creative new ways to restrict opportunity for women and we need to hold them accountable,’ Stech said.
It’s founding principle remains the same, however. Women who are against access to abortion, regardless of their overarching political beliefs, don’t qualify for the platinum package.
Cases in point: ex-Senators Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas. Both voted to restrict access to healthcare for women and lost EMILY’s List support as a result.
Both lost their seats in GOP wave elections when the map was difficult for Democrats. Lincoln was ousted in 2010, and Landieu lost her re-election bid in 2014.
Next year, it’s Republicans who will be on the defensive as they fend off challenges to 24 of the 54 seats they hold in the U.S. Senate.
EMILY’s List, so far, has put up a candidate in just one of those races – Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, a current Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. It’s three other recruits are competing for seats currently held by retiring Democrats.
Donna Edwards, another Member of the House, is looking to replace Mikulski while Kamala Harris of California and Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, both of whom have served as the attorneys general of their home states, are respectively vying for Dianne Feinstein and Harry Reid’s soon-to-be vacant offices.
While it’s primarily the job of the various committees directly connected to the Democratic Party to herd the blue team’s candidates to victory in 2016, Stech said EMILY’s List has a mutual interest in seeing candidates who share Clinton’s ideology get elected.
Read more: dailymail.co.uk