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As Democrats aim to capitalize on this year’s Republican turmoil and start building back their own decimated bench, former Attorney General Eric Holder will chair a new umbrella group focused on redistricting reform—with the aim of taking on the gerrymandering that’s left the party behind in statehouses and made winning a House majority far more difficult.
The new group, called the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, was developed in close consultation with the White House. President Barack Obama himself has now identified the group—which will coordinate campaign strategy, direct fundraising, organize ballot initiatives and put together legal challenges to state redistricting maps—as the main focus of his political activity once he leaves office.
Though initial plans to be active in this year’s elections fell short, the group has been incorporated as a 527, with Democratic Governors Association executive director Elizabeth Pearson as its president and House Majority PAC executive director Ali Lapp as its vice president. They’ve been pitching donors and aiming to put together its first phase action plan for December, moving first in the Virginia and New Jersey state elections next year and with an eye toward coordination across gubernatorial, state legislative and House races going into the 2018 midterms.
“American voters deserve fair maps that represent our diverse communities—and we need a coordinated strategy to make that happen,” Holder said. “This unprecedented new effort will ensure Democrats have a seat at the table to create fairer maps after 2020."
Obama strongly endorsed Holder’s selection, and is planning more involvement in state races this year. But it’s in his post-presidency that redistricting will be a priority for his fundraising and campaigning.
“Where he will be most politically engaged will be at the state legislative level, with an eye on redistricting after 2020,” said White House political director David Simas, who’s been briefing Obama on the group’s progress since it started coming together at the beginning of the summer.
The group’s incorporation follows a pitch made to major donors in Philadelphia during the Democratic convention in July, led by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, along with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair Rep. Ben Ray Luján. The group hasn’t filed any financial reports as of yet and isn’t releasing figures for money raised, but operatives say that several organizations have donated initial funds in its early stages of fundraising.