In late Dec. 2018, civil rights lawyer and political activist Steve Phillips ’92 announced the formation of Dreams United, a Super PAC in support of former classmate Senator Cory Booker ’91 M.A. ’92. Phillips has already raised $4 million and plans to raise at least $6 million more by March in support of a potential presidential run in 2020 by Booker.
According to the New York Times, Phillips has defined the focus of Dreams United as “increasing turnout among minorities and liberal white voters in Southern states, with a particular focus on South Carolina, which will host the first nominating contest in a state with a significant African-American population.”
Although Senator Booker has not yet conclusively announced whether or not he plans on running for president nor endorsed the creation of Phillips’ Super PAC, Phillips continues to openly voice his support.
“This is actually bigger than Cory,” Phillips told The New York Times. “And so those of us who are enthusiastic about what he brings and what he offers the country will continue to work to try to have him become our next president.”
Phillips and Booker have a history of collaboration; Phillips was also the co-founder of the PAC that aided Booker in his 2013 run for Senate.
However, the method of Phillips’ support has also been called into question by many key Democratic leaders in the past. Senators such as Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, as well as former President Barack Obama, have vocally expressed their preference for grassroots funding, comprised of small donations by individuals, as opposed to large-scale funding through PACs and Super PACs.
Phillips was at the forefront of early campaign fundraising for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential run, but his support of Obama was not accepted because of the campaign’s inclination toward grassroots contributions. A letter from representatives of Obama’s campaign requested Phillips to “[disband] your Vote Hope’s independent project immediately [and] commit your time and energies to the official campaign.”
Phillips does not think this difference in opinion on funding will impede Booker’s potential run.
“I don’t think at the end of the day, people are going to really look at who’s backing a person,” he told NJ Media. “They’re going to look at the candidate.”
Contact Zora Ilunga-Reed at zora814 ‘at’ stanford.edu