A new super PAC plans to spend $1 million to help Cory Booker as he struggles to gain traction in the Democratic race for president, with the immediate goal of helping the New Jersey Democrat make the cut for the December debate stage.
United We Win, which was formed Wednesday with the backing of New Jersey-based Democratic donors and consultants, “is supported by individuals who know Cory and have seen the transformative impact that has been made by his leadership and dedication to doing what’s right, from Newark to Washington,” said Philip Swibinski, a spokesperson for the group.
The super PAC made a splash Thursday with an initial digital ad buy of more than $154,000 nationally. The group plans to spend $1 million over the next month, Swibinski said, with digital ads geared toward attracting small-dollar donors to help Booker meet the DNC’s threshold for the next debate.
“That’s what we’re laser-focused on right now,” Swibinski said.
That goal seems well within reach. According to Booker’s campaign, he needs fewer than 15,000 donors to meet the higher 200,000 donor mark for the December debate.
But Booker also needs to meet a polling threshold: garnering 4% support in at least four national polls or 6% in two early state polls. So far, he hasn’t polled that high in any qualifying survey.
Whenever he meets the donor threshold, United We Win would consider reorienting its mission toward persuasion, Swibinski said.
Previously, Booker has said he would reject any help from a super PAC – although that hasn’t stopped some from trying.
Steve Phillips, a California-based Democratic donor, announced last year that he planned to raise $10 million for a super PAC supporting Booker. But the group had only raised around $1.1 million as of this summer, and has since been relatively quiet.
A Booker campaign aide said Thursday that his position toward super PACs has not changed. However, it’s not clear how aggressively Booker, who has struggled to raise money and his profile, would reject such a boost at this stage – particularly from a group steered by close allies.
United We Win is backed by supporters in the orbit of New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, said a source familiar with the group. Murphy is a longtime Booker ally who has backed him in this primary, even traveling to Iowa to campaign for him.
For now, the group hopes to steer small donors to Booker by promoting him as the candidate best positioned to unite the party and the country, and beat President Donald Trump next year. In ads on Facebook and Instagram, which were shared with CNN, the group plans to promote Booker’s work on criminal justice reform, his support for marijuana legalization and his history in Newark, where he served as mator.
Meanwhile, as new Democratic candidates look toward jumping into the fluid primary race, the group will stress that undecided voters need look no further than Booker.
“Democrats don’t need more candidates,” one ad by the group reads. “Our best chance to beat Trump is already in the race. Let’s stick with Cory.”
As the primary has entered its final stretch, super PACs are seeing a resurgence. Former Vice President Joe Biden, facing severe fundraising woes, recently reversed his opposition to outside help, citing Trump’s eye-popping fundraising and ad spending. Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who jumped into the race this week, has also suggested he would be open to support from a super PAC.