PAC plans new effort to put a black candidate on the 2020 Democratic ticket

A political group focused on electing African-American candidates says it is mounting an aggressive push to ensure a diverse 2020 Democratic presidential ticket, hoping to host a South Carolina primary forum and to run a pledge campaign aimed at convention delegates.

At a time when matters of race and identity are top of mind for Democratic activists, the Collective PAC is planning to urge convention delegates and superdelegates to commit to backing a person of color on the presidential ticket, and the group is also supporting Sens. Cory Booker and Kamala Harris in the crowded Democratic primary.

While the choice of a vice presidential candidate is up to the presidential nominee, the goal is to get “people on the record” in support of a diverse ticket, said Quentin James, the founder and executive director of the Collective PAC, an organization with a super PAC arm that supported Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum in 2018.

“Whether that’s top of the ticket, bottom of the ticket, both on the ticket, that’s up to voters, but we definitely think there should be room for at least one of them,” James said.

The delegate push could begin as soon as next month through emails and in-person conversations, he said. Aside from Booker and Harris, the pledge could also cover former Attorney General Eric Holder if he runs, and would also extend to candidates including former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro, who is Latino.

“How we hold them accountable to that is a question, but we do want to make this argument pretty nationally, that we’re thinking the path to victory for the Democratic Party is one of having a diverse ticket,” James said.

The organization also hopes to host a presidential forum in Greenville, S.C., tentatively slated for September 27, that would be open to candidates beyond just Booker and Harris, James said. The Democratic National Committee had no comment. The proposal was news to South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Trav Robertson, who noted that there are regulations governing such events and added that, “if they’re planning on doing something like that, I surely hope they’d communicate with the state party,” as well as the DNC.

“We want to make sure black voters, voters in South Carolina and in general, do hear and see these folks,” James said. “We also want to make sure, as they are campaigning around the country, issues that are important to the black community aren’t second-tier. We want to make sure we can prioritize issues of concern to our community at our forum.”

The organization says it has raised and bundled more than $6.5 million since 2016 through its various affiliates on behalf of black candidates. It hopes to raise between $12 million and $15 million for the upcoming election cycle.

Katie Glueck is a senior national political correspondent at McClatchy D.C., where she covered the 2018 midterm contests and is now reporting on the 2020 presidential campaigns. Previously, she was a reporter at POLITICO, where she covered the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections as well as the 2014 midterms. Her work has also appeared in publications including The Wall Street Journal, Washingtonian magazine, Town & Country magazine and The Austin American-Statesman. She is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and is a native of Kansas City.