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DNC to host first in-person fundraiser of the Covid era

Eighteen months into the pandemic, the Democratic National Committee is set to hold its first in-person, indoor fundraising event next week, turning to K Street to haul in cash ahead of what is sure to be an expensive midterm cycle.

The high-dollar affairs next Wednesday will feature a reception in honor of new DNC Chair Jaime Harrison — himself a former lobbyist — and a performance by legendary singer-songwriter Carole King. The reception will be hosted by Elizabeth Frawley Bagley, the former ambassador to Portugal and a bundler for President Joe Biden. According to an invitation obtained by POLITICO, the physical location of the fundraiser will be provided upon RSVP.

Tickets will cost $1,000 to get in the door, according to the invitation, but attendees can pay $5,000 to be listed as a supporter or $10,000 to be listed as a friend. And for K Streeters who have been starved of quality, offline facetime with party leaders, they can dole out $36,500 — the maximum amount an individual or non multicandidate PAC can contribute to a national party committee. That max contribution brings with it a more intimate “private clutch,” according to the invitation.

A separate fundraiser, scheduled for the same day, will serve as a launch event for the committee’s PAC, with tickets again starting at $1,000 to get in the door. For $5,000, an attendee can be deemed a supporter or contribute $15,000 to be named a friend. Donors can pay $45,000 to be named a leader of the event.

Both invites take care to stress that the fundraisers “will be following the most up-to-date CDC guidelines.” For the reception honoring Harrison, which is aimed at bringing friends of the new chair into the fold and will be indoors, attendees will be required to show proof of vaccination and a negative Covid test from within the previous 24 hours. There will also be a nurse on site administering rapid tests, according to a DNC official.

The second fundraiser, which is geared more toward long-standing donors, will be outdoors, and still require proof of vaccination and masks if attendees venture into indoor settings.

The hosting of an in-person event marks a return for Democrats to the usual method of raising cash more than a year and a half after hobnobbing with donors became confined to Zoom calls. President Joe Biden’s fundraisers for the committee, for example, have all been virtual, as was Vice President Kamala Harris’ Pride celebration fundraiser.

Democratic officials remained hesitant about mingling with donors in person even as vaccines became widely available and as their Republican counterparts gradually reverted back to the pre-pandemic, in-person norm.

The upcoming fundraisers come at a major flash point for Democrats’ domestic policy agenda. Next week, congressional Democrats will try to stave off a government shutdown as well as avert an impending fiscal cliff that could come as soon as mid-October. The party is also scrambling to craft a massive social spending and climate bill that can win 218 votes in the House and 50 votes in the Senate despite warring factions within the caucus over the legislation’s price tag and lobbyists swarming to chip away at the bill. All this comes while the party is trying to ensure a bipartisan infrastructure bill has the votes it needs to pass in the House — no small feat, with progressives threatening to walk.

But is the midterm elections that will likely loom over the coming fundraisers.

The GOP looks well-positioned to win back control of both chambers of Congress in 2022, given historical precedent and Biden’s sinking approval rating.

Though both the DNC and the Republican National Committee brought in massive amounts of cash last month, according to both committees, the GOP outraised Democrats by more than $2 million in August. The RNC also reported having more cash on hand than the DNC — $74.6 million to $67.8 million — forcing Democrats into a game of catch-up as the party heads into the fall.

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