Sen. Elizabeth Warren has come calling as recently as April. Kamala Harris, the first-term senator of California, has made repeated visits, starting as early as her third month in office.
It will be months before Biden, Harris, Warren or most potential presidential aspirants will barnstorm across the farmlands of Iowa, dig into a low-country boil in South Carolina or field questions at a town-hall meeting in New Hampshire.
But with U.S. presidential races requiring an ever-dizzying amount of money, an early, behind-the-scenes 2020 contest is already taking place: the New York money primary.
A parade of nationally ambitious Democrats have been cycling through the offices and living rooms of the Manhattan money set.
Top New York donors and Democratic fundraisers, in more than two dozen interviews, said that their phones rarely stop buzzing as candidates blitz one of the densest concentrations of Democratic wealth in the country.
Others calling and visiting include Terry McAuliffe, the former Virginia governor; Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles; former Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts; Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana; and former Missouri Senate candidate Jason Kander.
“When a candidate calls me to talk about ‘strategy and issues,’ you grab hold of your wallet for dear life,” said Robert Zimmerman, a prominent New York donor and a member of the Democratic National Committee who has been in touch with multiple prospective candidates.
For now, it is more about making connections than collecting cash, as few donors are committing at this stage. But to run a serious primary campaign, Democrats know they will have to amass tens of millions of dollars in the coming two years. Even if they got started as early as this July, a candidate would have to raise nearly $55,000 per day to construct a $30 million war chest by the end of 2019.
More than $500 million came from the New York City area to political campaigns in the last full election — the most of any single metropolitan region in the country, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. New York state had 15 of the top 50 ZIP codes for giving in the 2016 elections; no other state had half that many.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.
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