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Wealthy Democratic donors sound alarm over Biden staying in race


(WASHINGTON) — Even as many Democrats lawmakers call for President Joe Biden to exit the race after his poor debate performance last Thursday, a growing number of wealthy Democratic donors — whose money Biden is relying on to bolster his fight against former President Donald Trump — are publicly sounding the alarm on his ability to lead the ticket.

An Arizona donor, who asked to remain anonymous, gave about $25,000 to Biden last year and planned on holding a fundraiser for the president in March or April. While they told ABC News they “struggled” in the spring to get other donors onboard, they face an even great challenge now.

“We had been talking to [Biden’s] team about doing a fundraiser, but I cooled off on it. I struggled to get other people involved,” the donor said. “People were not bullish on Biden. Now, it is a ‘hell no."”

“Trying to get to a million at this point is not going to happen,” the donor added, referencing the politically precarious post-debate environment Biden finds himself in.

Many donors may be looking at Biden’s public appearances and interviews to help make a determination about how they will move forward. Biden will have a critical opportunity when he has a sit-down interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos on Friday. The first excerpts will air on “World News Tonight” and then the interview will be broadcast in its entirety in a prime-time ABC network special on Friday evening at 8 p.m. ET.

The donor from Arizona, a critical battleground state, said Democrats should turn to Vice President Kamala Harris to lead the ticket in November’s election.

“I was going to give another 10-15 grand. It’s sad. I don’t want to — Trump to win, but I think the Democratic Party needs a better strategy to take place to defeat Trump,” the donor said. “I don’t know if the existing strategy is the right one. Kamala Harris should take his place. Introducing a new person at this point doesn’t make sense.”

This donor is not alone. Deep-pocketed donors that have supported Biden before are expressing their concerns with the president continuing on and their reluctance to fork over more cash to his campaign.

Marty Dolan
Marty Dolan, a former banker and executive who ran and lost in the New York congressional primary against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez earlier this year, questioned the party’s confidence in Biden during an interview on CNN on Friday morning.

“I think our job as a party is to nominate somebody who can do the job for what’s going to be four and a half years … the simple question that the Democratic leadership has to ask is: are we nominating somebody that has the confidence of the party and the country to do the job for another four and a half years,” Dolan asked. “And I think when you ask the question that way, it sort of leads you to the answer.”

Pressed on what that answer is, Dolan said, “I don’t believe Biden has the confidence of the party and the country that he can lead the country for another four and a half years,” adding that he believes the next steps need to be about more than just “getting through one night or getting — you know, just kind of creeping across the — the deadline to the election.”

Dolan did not indicate if he would be pausing any donations to the campaign or to the Democratic Party. According to Federal Elections Commissions filings, he donated more than $5,000 to the Biden campaign and $3,400 to the Democratic National Committee in April; USA TODAY reported that he attended a major fundraiser for Biden that month and bought four tickets.

Reed Hastings
Reed Hastings, who helped found Netflix almost three decades ago, along with his wife, donated more than $20 million to support the Democratic Party over the last few years. Most of their donations have gone to super PACs meant to help House and Senate Democrats, according to FEC filings.

In an email to the New York Times he said, “Biden needs to step aside to allow a vigorous Democratic leader to beat Trump and keep us safe and prosperous,” the Times reported.

Mark Cuban
Billionaire investor, Dallas Mavericks minority owner and “Shark Tank” host Mark Cuban told CNN last Saturday he wants to see polling to “find out if there are any potential replacements” who could outperform Trump in a hypothetical matchup.

Earlier in the 2024 race, Cuban voted for former U.N. ambassador and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley during the Republican primary. But, he later attended a Biden fundraiser in Dallas in March “to show … support” to Biden, he said.

Abigail Disney
CNBC reported on Thursday that Abigail Disney, a philanthropist and filmmaker who is a granddaughter of the Walt Disney Company’s co-founder Roy Disney, said in a statement to CNBC on Thursday that she will stop donating to the Democratic Party until Biden leaves the race. (Abigail Disney is not involved with the Walt Disney Company, which is the parent company of ABC News.)

In a statement to CNBC, Abigail Disney wrote, “I intend to stop any contributions to the party unless and until they replace Biden at the top of the ticket. This is realism, not disrespect. Biden is a good man and has served his country admirably, but the stakes are far too high. If Biden does not step down the Democrats will lose. Of that I am absolutely certain. The consequences for the loss will be genuinely dire.”

Disney also praised Harris, indicating to CNBC that she could serve as a strong replacement nominee: “If Democrats would tolerate any of her perceived shortcomings even one tenth as much as they have tolerated Biden’s (and let’s not kid ourselves about where race and gender figure in that inequity) and if Democrats can find a way to stop quibbling and rally around her, we can win this election by a lot.”

According to Federal Elections Commissions filings, Disney donated $50,000 to the Democratic-leaning Jane Fonda Climate PAC in April and in the fall donated to groups such as Forward Majority PAC and Rep. Katie Porter’s Senate campaign.

Barry Diller
Barry Diller, billionaire chairman of IAC — an internet media and publishing company — and husband of designer Diane von Fürstenberg, was asked by The Anker if he’s still holding firm with the Biden campaign. He replied simply, “No.”

According to FEC Filings, Diller maxed out with a $6,600 contribution to the Biden campaign in 2023, and gave $100,000 to the president and the Democratic Party’s joint super PAC for the general election.

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