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Kerry Unveils Reshaped PAC

Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry has put the finishing touches on a new fundraising committee and assembled a staff to manage its operations, the latest sign that he has no intention of ceding the playing field to other Democrats interested in pursuing the presidency in 2008.

The new entity, which was registered with the Federal Election Commission on Wednesday, will be known as the Keeping America’s Promise PAC.

“The goal is to provide a vehicle for the millions of Americans who share Sen. Kerry’s vision for the country and want to promote this vision and fight for the issues that they care deeply about,” said John Giesser, who will be the executive director of the new venture, and will also be charged with managing Kerry’s overall political portfolio.

Giesser is a longtime Kerry loyalist who served as one of the Senator’s closest advisers during the 2004 presidential contest.

Kerry allies reject the idea that the new PAC is nothing more than an effort to maintain parity with other would-be 2008 candidates who are already beefing up their own political operations — a list that includes Kerry’s 2004 ticketmate, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh and New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“John Kerry is in a unique position as the last nominee of the party,” said an adviser to the Senator, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “He wants to spend the next couple of years using this great team we built. He has the luxury of time.”

The decision to shutter the Citizen Soldier Fund, which Kerry used to finance his presidential ambitions in the run-up to the 2004 primaries, and open a new PAC is reflective of the belief that Kerry is in a very different place politically than he was in 2000.

“It’s four years later and he has run a strong campaign for president,” explained Giesser.

In conjunction with the unveiling of the PAC, Kerry sent out an e-mail solicitation to roughly 3 million supporters Wednesday announcing his decision to donate $1 million to the Democratic National Committee and urging them to follow his lead.

“If we want to prevail in the 2006 elections, we’ve got to start mobilizing now,” wrote Kerry.

The huge Kerry e-mail list is a major asset and has already performed well, argue his advisers, who note that Kerry’s “Give Voice to Our Values” hotline produced 16,000 individual telephone calls in support of his healthcare plan.

As for the $1 million contribution, it will come from Kerry’s Senate campaign committee into which he transferred $4 million from his presidential account before the end of 2004.

KAP will not begin active fundraising until early April and at that point will start from zero. Although Kerry has $15 million in leftover funds from the 2004 campaign, those monies cannot be transferred to the new organization.

Giesser said that the e-mail appeal is indicative of the kind of activities with which the PAC will be involved throughout the cycle, which will include advancing Kerry’s larger policy agenda, and making contributions to state and national parties and individual candidates.

“We will continue to build the party at the grass roots so that there is an opportunity for volunteers to be active on a year-round basis,” said Giesser.

One of the first activities for the new PAC will be to help fund a soon-to-be announced national stumping tour by Kerry to promote his KidsFirst plan, which seeks to extend health insurance to the 11 million children that are not currently covered.

The new organization will maintain offices in Boston and on Capitol Hill.

Giesser, along with Deputy Executive Director Tracey Lewis, will be based in Boston. Lewis served as a field organizer for Kerry in Florida during the 2004 campaign.

The Washington-based operation will include Jackson “Jay” Dunn, who will be the national finance director for the PAC. Dunn was national finance director at the Democratic National Committee from 2001 to 2005.

Amy Dacey will be the new PAC’s political director, after serving in a similar position during Kerry’s primary and general election campaign.

Jenny Backus, a longtime political operative, will serve as a political and communications consultant to the PAC; Katharine Lister will be KAP’s press secretary.

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