A group that was backed by former President Barack Obama and headed by former Attorney General Eric Holder had poured in $1 million into the Virginia gubernatorial race in support for the Democrat Ralph Northam, who defeated Republican, Ed Gillespie.
Other prominent liberals, including the progressive mega-donor Tom Steyer and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, also devoted huge sums of money and resources into the effort to elect Northam.
The National Democratic Redistricting Foundation — a foundation that is associated with the National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NRDC), a Washington, D.C. based organization chaired by Holder and with which Obama is entirely involved that is focused on redistricting the efforts — zeroed in on Virginia as its first electoral battleground since leaving the White House given the state’s redistricting implications after the 2020 U.S. Census.
The group, which uses a four-part strategy that included “advancing legal action, mobilizing grassroots energy, supporting reforms, and winning elections,” had donated $750,000 to the Virginia Democratic Party in the recent months to aide Northam the sources had previously reported. The group had added $200,000 in contributions in late October, as the latest filings show.
Holder said that redistricting efforts are very personal to Obama, who holds the resentment towards the House Republicans for impairing his legislative agenda for a portion of his presidency.
“The tasks that he had placed before him were made a lot more difficult, progress a lot more difficult, than it needed to be,” Holder had said. “That’s because of the Congress that he had to deal with, which was a function of the 2010 redistricting effort.”
Obama held a strategy meeting before leaving the White House that was solely attended by Senator Chuck Schumer, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, and Representative Nancy Pelosi, where the group had identified the breaking up Republican controlled areas as a top priority for the Democrats.
Obama’s first political event since his departure from the White House was an NRDC fundraiser this past summer with Holder and Pelosi. McAuliffe has also helped the group with its fundraising efforts, which had pulled in nearly $11 million during their first half of the year.
Obama had hit the campaign trail for Northam in the October.
Marc Elias, who is a partner at the D.C. based Perkins Coie law firm, who was the top lawyer for Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential campaign, acts as the group’s senior advisor and general counsel.
Also involved with the NDRC are Kelly Ward, the former executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC); Elisabeth Pearson, the executive director of the Democratic Governor’s Association (DGA); Jessica Post, the executive director of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee; Ali Lapp, the president of the House Majority PAC, a super PAC backed by Pelosi; and Greg Speed, president of America Votes Action Fund.
The NRDC plans to raise further $30 million for governor races during the next year – 2018 election cycle. They would additionally spend on local races in states where the legislature is competitive.