From Beto to Oprah, Undeclared 2020 Candidates Already Backed by Outside Groups

As a growing number of potential 2020 Democratic candidates weigh their chances, various PACs have appeared hoping to demonstrate grassroots support and “draft” their favored candidate into running.

Already attracting a lot of attention is unsuccessful 2018 Senate candidate and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas). A Politico report claims he is “leaning toward running for president,” and several unaffiliated PACs have been launched since November 2018 with the intention of getting O’Rourke to run.

The Draft Beto PAC, launched on Nov. 23, 2018, is headquartered in Brooklyn, New York and lists Nathan Lerner as its treasurer. Lerner is an Obama 2012 alum and executive director of the Build the Wave grassroots organization and PAC. He also co-founded the DraftBeto.org website. The Draft Beto PAC has no financial data listed as no filing deadlines have passed since it was registered with the FEC.

Another organization, The We Want Beto Unofficial Street Team 2020 PAC, also launched in 2018. Based in Eaton Rapids, Michigan, the PAC lists Christopher Hopcraft as its treasurer. Hopcraft appears to be a business owner in Michigan and the founder of The World Trade Center Oak Project, according to a Facebook account matching the name in the FEC filing. A website describes the group as an “unofficial activist group dedicated to seeing Texas Representative Robert Francis ‘Beto’ O’Rourke nominated as the contender for President by the Democratic Party.” The PAC has no financial data because no filing deadlines have passed since it was registered.

A third PAC, Draft Beto 2020, is the newest, having been launched on Jan. 2. Based in Boston, the PAC names Gemma Martin as its treasurer. Martin is also listed as the treasurer for the liberal Super PAC Alliance for a Better Rhode Island. A website affiliated with the PAC lists three team members: Lauren Pardi, a former communications…

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