Clinton run charges up Emily's List ahead of 2016

Story highlights

  • Emily's List, energized with the prospect of electing the first woman president, is preparing to go big in 2016
  • The group plans to make the election cycle their most expensive to date -- spending over $14 million
  • "We are going to play a bigger role than we have ever played," said the operative tasked with leading the effort

Washington (CNN)For a group with the chief purpose of helping to get Democratic women elected into higher office, Emily's List enters 2016 closer to the top prize -- the presidency -- than ever before, and with fewer restrictions than what faced political organization the last time Hillary Clinton ran.

Senior operatives at the Democratic operation are pledging that 2016 will be Emily's List's most active election to date, one where they hope the group's deep connections to Clinton -- the expected favorite for the Democratic nomination -- will magnify their efforts.
Emily's List was very active in the race in 2008 during Clinton's first bid, but election laws have changed vastly since then -- mostly thanks to the Supreme Court's Citizen's United decision in 2010 -- making it possible for the group to play a bigger role.
    The former secretary of state herself will headline the group's 30th anniversary gala in Washington, D.C next week, a nod to their importance to both the former first lady and to Democratic 2016 scene.
    Denise Feriozzi, the political director at Emily's List has been tapped to lead the group's independent expenditure effort in 2016, expected to outpace their most expensive cycle to date -- $14 million last year.
    The group, which raised more than $60 million for Democratic women in 2014, expects that with Clinton atop the ticket -- and energy among other women candidates to run -- they will easily break through those fundraising numbers.
    "We are going to play a bigger role than we have ever played," Feriozzi said about the group. "There is going to be a level of excitement for our Emily's List community and from women and men around the country to elect the first women president and, more importantly, to elect the right person."
    Stephanie Schriock, the president of Emily's List, has left the Priorities USA board so that she can work closer with the Clinton campaign and still comply with election coordination rules.
    Clinton, then secretary of state-designate, attends an Emily's List luncheon in 2009.
    Feriozzi will take Schriock's seat on the super PAC board, a body that has long been seen as the center of the pro-Clinton world, where leaders from the different organizations can meet and coordinate efforts to help boost Clinton's campaign efforts.
    The group's will not be just about boosting Clinton and female Democrats. As it has been in the past, Emily's List's 2016 plan will also focus on trying to define Republican candidates as bad for women across the country.
    Some of these efforts have already started. Earlier this month, Emily's List launched "GOP 2016: Insult & Injury," an interactive graphic that will "chronicle Republicans' out of touch agenda for American women." This kind of messaging is common for Emily's List, but with Clinton atop the ticket, advisers for the group expect the contrasts to be more defined.
    The focus is on ensuring that the gender gap for a likely Clinton campaign is as big -- if not bigger -- than the 12-point margin that Obama enjoyed in 2012.
    "That is our niche, that is our role, and that is what we are going to do here," Feriozzi said, stressing that the group will be targeted and strategic about their investments.
    That will be critical, because spending in the 2016 election is expected to break all previous records. Sources have told CNN that Priorities, the keystone Democratic Super PAC going into the next election cycle, hopes to raise $300-$500 million for 2016, while the Koch brothers, uber-Republican donors and businessman, have said they will spend $898 million during the election.
    Emily's List's pockets are considerably smaller, but Feriozzi and others said their money will be more focused than scattershot.
    "I am not going to say what we are going to do and what we are not, but we, as a progressive community, have got to be more targeted and smarter," Feriozzi said. "We are going to figure out what that is."