CBC Boosts Obama

Posted March 26, 2004 at 6:05pm

The Congressional Black Caucus today will kick off an eight-month offensive to elect a black Senator, hosting its first major fundraiser and vowing a cadre of campaign volunteers for Illinois Democrat Barack Obama.

The CBC chairman, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the CBC Illinois delegation and other caucus members will sit down with Obama this afternoon, and later the group’s political action committee will host a $1,000-per-head fundraiser at the Willard Offices on Pennsylvania Avenue. The event will feature Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) as its special guest.

Leaders of the 38-member CBC say the group plans to pull out all the stops to elect Obama, who is a state Senator. Obama would become just the third black Senator since Reconstruction and is part of the Democrats’ “Dream Team” of minority candidates running for the Senate this cycle.

Cummings said electing Obama to the Senate is a “major, major priority” for the CBC. He called the race historic for both the caucus and for black voters nationwide.

“We see him becoming a new member of the CBC,” Cummings said. “We want to make sure he wins. We’ll be raising money, we’ll be going to Illinois for any purposes that he might want us to. We’ll be campaigning with everything we can.”

Rep. Albert Wynn (D-Md.), head of the CBC PAC, described tonight’s fundraiser as the first of several the group plans to hold for Obama. He wouldn’t put a hard target on how much the CBC hopes to bring in at the event, saying only that “we will raise some money.”

“There will be others,” Wynn said of the fundraiser. “This is about getting acquainted.”

Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), also a CBC member, echoed those sentiments: “We’re going to do everything we can for him.”

Obama faces former investment banker Jack Ryan (R) in November in what is expected to be one of the most hotly contested Senate races this cycle.

“We’re in the early stages of ramping up support for his campaign,” Wynn said. “We’re not saying this is the only Barack Obama event.

“The main thing is we’re going to raise money and we’re going to encourage others to as well,” Wynn added.

Cummings said the CBC PAC plans to host fundraisers in major cities across the country and reach out to different groups on Obama’s behalf. The CBC also plans to work over the coming months to persuade fellow Members and Democratic donors to give to Obama’s campaign and plans to enlist volunteers to travel to Illinois to help his campaign.

“We’re going to do everything we can, almost to the degree of living in Illinois to make sure he wins,” Cummings said.