Alex Blaze

Gay Donors Expected to Fill Enthusiasm Gap for Obama

Filed By Alex Blaze | May 10, 2011 2:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Barack Obama, David Mixner, Democrats, Obama 2012 campaign

Politico has an article up saying that rich gay donors are going to be a cornerstone of Obama's 2012 billion dollar campaign strategy. pink-dollar.jpgThere's a lot of interesting information in the article, although with all the unnamed sources, boilerplate, and speculation it's important to take it with a grain of salt.

Still, here's what gay donors and fundraisers are saying out loud:

President Barack Obama's reelection campaign is banking on gay donors to make up the cash it's losing from other groups of wealthy supporters who have been alienated and disappointed by elements of Obama's first term.

Pleased by an all-out White House push to repeal "don't ask, don't tell," gay donors have surprised campaign officials with the extent of their support. And the campaign's new fundraising apparatus appears designed to capitalize on their enthusiasm: Obama's finance committee included one gay man in 2008; there are 15 this year, a source said.[...]

"He's coming back up in the estimation of the gay community pretty rapidly, and I think justifiably," said Ethan Geto, a New York lobbyist and key figure in Dean's gay fundraising, who said many gay supporters had hoped "don't ask" would be repealed during the president's first year in office. "When things didn't happen in [that] time frame and on the track that Obama had held out hope for, people got very disillusioned," said Geto. "This was the time to strike."

The article also cites the Justice Department's stance on DOMA and hospital visitation as other moves that have pleased these big donors.

I have more on this after the jump, but while you're clicking over, is what you've seen over the last few years enough to make you donate or volunteer for Obama in 2012?

The article mentions some of the other groups - mainly the left and labor, although I'm surprised that no one is talking about how disillusioned women are with the Obama administration - that might donate less to the campaign, suggesting that's why the gays are going to be needed to fill in the gap:

"It's ironic -- a year ago there was no constituency more unhappy. There was a sea change," said David Mixner, a veteran New York gay activist, who said that White House actions during the past year had swayed restive gay donors. "You not only will see a united community that will contribute to Obama, but they will work their asses off."[...]

Gay support is particularly key this year to Obama, whose 2008 campaign raised huge sums from the very rich, just as it did from smaller donors. Now, key categories of supporters have grown leery. The left-leaning super-rich, including George Soros, see Obama as hopelessly compromised and have lost their enthusiasm for him. Some Wall Street and hedge fund executives, tired of being criticized and regulated, have switched sides. Some pro-Israel Jewish donors, a mainstay of Bill Clinton's fundraising, dislike Obama's pressure on Benjamin Netanyahu. And rich men on both coasts whom Clinton had accustomed to personal flattery, personal visits and late-night bull sessions have received no such personal attention from the more solitary Obama.

It should also be mentioned that the small donors that Obama took a lot of pride in funding his campaign back in 2008 won't all be coming back. While the rich - conservative, gay, liberal, Jewish, or otherwise - have their issues that they want heard, the poor and the working class have been almost completely ignored and marginalized. Not that it matters - a campaign that focuses on big donors, like Obama's will in 2012, doesn't really need popular support if what's important is "late-night bull sessions" with the rich and famous.

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I will support Obama - but only because he's still better than the alternative, he's the lesser of two evils.

VaqueroSF | May 10, 2011 5:27 PM

Who will you vote for instead, Alex? I certainly don't think that President Obama has been able to fulfill all of his campaign promises, but I don't think he is the failed president that a lot of people--on both the right and the left--would like to make him out to be.

My question wasn't about voting, but about donating and volunteering.

I do not donate to anyone running for any office, period.
perhaps in a roundabout way,some of my $ end up there, from union employer, but outta my pocket, no fekkin way.
It should not be a battle of funds, but of who is the best candidate.
I donate with my vote and repugs have never earned it.

california panda | May 10, 2011 5:58 PM

When I see the administration pushing hard (and not half-heartedly) for a repeal of DOMA and an advancement of ENDA then I'll believe Obama is serious. Not until then.

MikeFromCanada | May 10, 2011 6:17 PM

half-heartedly?? You have got to be kidding? In comparison to what? You're gonna deny support of the only President who has ever done anything positive for the American gay community because you didn't get exactly everything you wanted in the first week he was on the job? Honestly, I don't understand how so many LGBT Americans can be so negative towards the best ally you've ever had in American politics, or American society for that matter. I suppose you'd rather have the Republicans back in charge?? You people need to give your heads a shake.

beergoggles | May 10, 2011 7:35 PM

Short answer is yes. I'm a pragmatist and believe that we're getting where we need to be incrementally. As long as we're moving forward, the speed doesn't overly concern me.

Add in all the racial attacks Obama and Michelle are going through because of the right wing, it motivates me more than ever to phone bank, donate and get involved. So ultimately you can say I'm only an O-bot because of the right wing but we are defined by our enemies.

Tavis Smiley has gotten some blowback when he tweeted earlier this Spring that the 2012 campaign season will be the ugliest, most racist season the country has seen since slave times.

Others fear that expressing such apprehensions publicly sets us up for a self-fulfilling prophesy, that such an apprehension gives the bigots permission to bring it on with their worst.

But this time I think Tavis is right. Tighten your seat belts, this is going to be an ugly, ugly ride.

beergoggles | May 10, 2011 8:22 PM

If anyone thinks racism hasn't been cranked up already hasn't been paying attention. I just don't know how much higher it can get without it being blatant to the racially clueless.

I've vote for Obama in 2012 because he's almost certainly better than what the GOP will nominate. That doesn't mean he's lived up to his commitments or that I wouldn't vote for a challenger in a primary.

I'm quite certain I'll vote for Obama (there's no one else even remotely laudable at this juncture) but I will NOT donate. Obama's glacial pace on the issues that matter to me, and his lack of chutzpah leave me uninspired enough to keep my purse-strings snapped shut. Truthfully, I'm getting disgusted with the whole political process, the disconnect between politician and citizen, and 'the American way' in general. To actually spend my hard-earned money on any aspect of it seems a lesson in abject futility to me.

People amaze me. "glacial pace" "not lived up to commitments." Really?

Our community came into 2008 with 4 distinct campaign promises - 1. Hate Crimes Law. 2. Repeal DADT. 3. Repeal DOMA. 4. Pass inclusive ENDA.

50% of our agenda has passed in 2 years. The Administration has gone as far as it can go on DOMA, refusing to enforce it, even to the point of Eric Holder directly intervening.

Go ask any other group how much of their agenda has passed in two years and see how it is going.

Sometimes we sound like a damn Willy Wonka character - "But I want every single thing now Daddy!"

I feel obliged to point out that DOMA is still very much being enforced - ask any of the married same-sex couples that had to file separately this past year, the elderly people denied Social Security benefits, etc., under the law.

The administration has said that they won't defend it in court, and instead prestigious private sector lawyers will defend it. That's it - it's not the same thing as an actual press to get Congress to pass DOMA repeal.

I'll accept that I misstated not enforcing for not defending.

Ask Henry Velandia what he thinks of Obama and DOMA though.

Legislation takes time, and our community has gained more of it in the last 2 years than any other constituency.

I find it interesting that the Close the gAyTM campaign was so successful. The article says that donations last year were down dramatically until pro-LGBT legislation started moving forward. Then the cash started flowing again.

I'd call that a success.