Democrats raised more than US$71 million in the hours after US Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, demonstrating how the liberal icon’s passing and the contentious nomination fight that lies ahead have already galvanized the party’s base.
The jaw-dropping sum was raised by 9pm on Saturday after news of her death broke late on Friday, according to a donation ticker on the Web site of ActBlue, the party’s online fundraising platform.
This year’s campaign, which will decide control of the White House and the US Senate, had already delivered record-shattering fundraising totals for the Democrats, a sign of the motivation within the party to rebuke US President Donald Trump on election day.
However, Ginsburg’s death brought new impetus to the campaign, particularly after Trump and US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell both pledged to move forward with finding a new justice.
That would further tilt the court in a conservative direction, carrying wide-ranging implications for the fate of abortion access, environmental regulations and healthcare.
Although ActBlue has not yet disclosed who the biggest recipients were, Democratic challengers to Republican senators were in line to benefit from the influx of cash.
A group of Democratic strategists raising money through an effort called “Get Mitch or Die Trying,” which shares donations among Democratic Senate contenders, reported that within hours of Ginsburg’s death they more than doubled what they had previously raised.
“In tribute to the extraordinary life of Justice Ginsberg, I’m matching donations to this fund up to US$10,000 tonight,” tweeted Grey’s Anatomy showrunner Krista Vernoff.
US Senator Brian Schatz, a Democrat, included a link to the fundraising effort in his tweet: “Don’t pick your favorite candidate or the one you’ve heard of. Give here. I repeat, this money goes directly to the most competitive races, not just the most famous candidates.”
A separate Senate-focused Democratic fundraising push specifically mentions Ginsburg’s legacy.
“In this moment it is vital to give to Senate candidates,” reads an ActBlue fundraising page called “Protect RBG’s Legacy”
“Time to apply maximum pressure so that they do the right thing & refuse to vote to confirm before the 2020 election,” it says.
A representative for ActBlue did not respond to a request for comment.
A spokesman for WinRed, the Republicans’ ActBlue counterpart, also did not respond to a request for comment.
Democrats were not the only ones who raised the specter of the coming Senate nomination fight while raising money.
In Iowa, vulnerable US Senator Joni Ernst, a Republican, sent out fundraising pleas shortly after Ginsburg’s death was announced, drawing a swift online backlash.
“BREAKING: The future of the Supreme Court is on the line,” read the subject line of a fundraising e-mail from Ernst.
“Our Conservative values and Constitutional rights are now on the line,” the e-mail said. “The next Supreme Court nominee will shape major decisions for decades to come.”
Ernst later issued an apology.
“This email never should have gone out,” she said in a statement. “Though I never saw it, it was sent out under my name and I take responsibility for it. Tonight, my prayers are with the family of Justice Ginsburg.”
On Saturday, Trump’s campaign also texted out a fundraising solicitation to supporters.
“Pres. Trump will fill the Supreme Court vacancy with a conservative justice,” the message read. “Make America Great Again!”
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