Steve Phillips, the San Francisco lawyer and veteran Democratic donor behind the super PAC, Dream United, last year announced plans to raise $10 million to support Booker and said he already had attracted millions of dollars in commitments.
“I remain confident there’s going to be $5 million to $10 million for an independent effort for him,” Phillips told CNN on Sunday. “This is really a down payment on that. It’s just been a little bit slower than initially anticipated.”
The biggest donor to the super PAC: Susan Sandler, Phillips’ wife and the heir to a California banking fortune. She donated $1 million to Dream United, according to a statement provided first to CNN. Other donors: Boykin Curry, a partner in the investment firm Eagle Capital, who donated $100,000 and $25,000 from New York lawyer Eunu Chun.
Booker, like most of his rivals for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, has declared that he does not want help from super PACs. Super PACs can raise and spend unlimited amounts as long as they do not coordinate their spending decisions with candidates. By contrast, an individual cannot donate more than $2,800 to a candidate for the primary or general election.
Phillips has said he intends to continue working to promote Booker’s candidacy and recently announced plans to reach half a million voters in four states to encourage them to support the New Jersey senator. If Booker doesn’t secure the nomination, Phillips said the voter contacts will be used to help the Democrats’ eventual nominee.
Money could start flowing swiftly to the super PAC “if Cory does start to move in Iowa the way I anticipate he will,” Phillips added.
Phillips and Sandler are major Democratic donors. In the 2008 campaign, Sandler invested more than $2 million into what became an $11 million voter mobilization effort to help elect Barack Obama, Phillips said in a statement. In the 2018 election cycle, Sandler pumped $6 million into voter turnout work in Georgia to aid Stacey Abrams’ unsuccessful bid to become the nation’s first black female governor.