In 2013, a new nonpartisan group called CROWDPAC launched a new fundraising model for potential political candidates. Similar to Kickstarter, CROWDPAC allows candidates to raise money through financial pledges. The pledges are not collected unless the candidate actually decides to run, giving them a chance to see how much support they have before making their decision.
As an example, Kathryn Allen was considering a run against Utah Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz so she started a CROWDPAC fundraising pledge drive. She raised about $12,000. Not an insubstantial amount but not nearly enough to run against a sitting member of Congress who Chairs one of the most powerful House Committees. Then Chaffetz had a townhall meeting were he suggested that people were deciding to buy iPhones rather than health insurance. The outrage that resulted from that tonedeaf and absurd comment turned out to be the catalyst for an outpouring of support for Allen. As of today, she has raised over a half million dollars through CROWDPAC for her potential run.
Another potential candidate is here in Michigan in the 11th Congressional District. Haley Stevens is a millennial who grew up in the District. She served as chief of staff on the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry in 2009 for the Obama administration. She was pondering a run against incumbent Republican and notorious Foreclosure King David Trott and, after Trott’s outrageous “hot mic” moment when his staff called his constituents as “un-American”, she opened a CROWDPAC fundraising pledge drive of her own. In just a few short weeks, she has raised almost $25,000 for her potential bid.
I am officially exploring a run for Congress in my home district, where I was proudly born & raised! #Michigan #CD11
— Haley Stevens (@HaleyLive) March 27, 2017
Stevens comes to the race with some serious campaign chops. In addition to her work with the Auto Task force, she worked on the campaigns of Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow. Here’s what the lead adviser to the Auto Task force, Steven Rattner, had to say about Stevens in his book Overhaul – An Insider’s Account of the Obama Administration’s Emergency Rescue of the Auto Industry:
I made only one other visit to the transition headquarters, coincidentally on the day the Senate agreed to the second $350 billion of TARP funding, January 15. PUshing through the second tranche of the unpopular program was a heady success for an administration that hadn’t yet taken office. The news occasioned high-fives in the economics corner of the eighth floor and a victory-lap appearance by Rahm. I met Haley Stevens that day, even younger than Deese and a native of Michigan, who had wanted more than anything to assist with autos and had gotten a mutual acquaintance to send me her résumé. Haley had spent most of the three and a half years since graduating from college in one political job or another while also earning a master’s degree. After the election, she’d worked on confirmations for cabinet-level appointees. Since she was already on the transition team’s payroll, Deese and I quickly decided to make her our chief of staff. We would come to find her tireless, cheerful, and blessed with a social conscience and a talent for improvisation.
CROWDPAC is an exciting new political fundraising model, one that gives potential candidates a chance to test the waters before committing to run. And with Trott’s clear disrespect of and disdain for his constituents, someone with Stevens’ background, values, and temperament might have a real shot at booting him from his seat and send him back to preying on vulnerable Michiganders in the world of foreclosure. This will be an interesting race to watch.