Elizabeth Warren Isn’t Running For President, Top Financial Backer Tells Democrats

Paul Egerman, a Warren gatekeeper, waves donors off the hype over the senator’s possible presidential run. “It’s not gonna happen,” one funder says.

By Ruby Cramer

Elizabeth Warren’s former national finance chair, Paul Egerman, has told several inquiring donors this month that, despite runaway speculation and a burning desire from the party’s left wing, the freshman senator will not run for president in 2016.


Egerman, close to both Warren and to the heavy-hitting liberal base of funders who helped her raise $42 million last year, has been approached by donors in the last two weeks and told them that, no, Warren is not planning to run, according to two major players in Democratic financial circles who spoke with Egerman directly.


One Democratic fundraiser said he spoke with Egerman roughly two weeks ago, after articles by Peter Beinart in the Daily Beast and Noam Scheiber in the New Republic heightened fervor amongst the progressive wing of the party over whether Warren would ever challenge Hillary Clinton, already the presumed frontrunner, from the left.


Egerman, the fundraiser said, quickly threw cold water on the theory.


“It’s not gonna happen,” the source said.


More recently, at meetings last week in Washington for Democracy Alliance, a tightly guarded coalition of some of the country’s biggest liberal donors, the question of Warren’s candidacy was still fresh. Warren herself spoke at the conference on Thursday, introducing a panel on the judiciary with Doug Kendall, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center, and Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU.


At the meetings for the group, which funds a portfolio of progressive organizations, Warren and Egerman spoke about her intentions in 2016, according to a Democratic political strategist with close ties to the Democracy Alliance who had a private conversation about the interaction with Egerman later. Warren told Egerman, according to the strategist, she had no plans to primary Clinton.


Another donor, based in New York City, asked Warren directly at the conference about her intentions and received the same answer, according to the strategist who spoke later that week with the donor.


The sources described Egerman, a retired software entrepreneur who calls himself an “enthusiastic supporter of Senator Elizabeth Warren” in his biography on Twitter, as the gatekeeper between the senator and the world of her financial backers.


“He’s the guy to ask,” said the fundraiser, citing Egerman’s longtime ties to the Democratic fundraising world. “The geese talk to the geese. The bears talk to the bears. And the hippos talk to the hippos.”


In an email, Egerman said he had no comment for this article.


Another donor with ties to the Clintons reached out about two weeks ago to another member of Warren’s circle, former finance director Michael Pratt, and was given the same answer regarding 2016, the donor said.


As speculation over Warren’s possible run continues, the message to the donor class is clear, and happens to be consistent with what staffers in Warren’s own Senate office have told reporters in the last week.


Lacey Rose, Warren’s press secretary, gave BuzzFeed the following statement: “As Senator Warren has said many times, she is not running for president,” Rose said.


Three attendees at last week’s Democracy Alliance meetings cautioned that there is already an understanding inside fundraising circles that Warren would not consider running unless Clinton bows out of the race — a possibility that looks increasingly unlikely as her allies build up an expansive infrastructure for her campaign a full three years in advance of Election Day.


But the excitement over a Warren candidacy — even if that candidacy never comes to fruition — may still make waves in the 2016 race.

The whispers have given oxygen to demand on the left for an anti-Wall Street, Warren-like candidate, and have caused angst inside a pro-Clinton camp already concerned that the hype alone could expose one of her biggest potential weaknesses: that she may not be progressive enough.


One attendee at the Democracy Alliance conference, though, said the focus there was less on 2016 and more on next year’s races, particularly Wendy Davis’s bid for governor of Texas, and Michelle Nunn’s for U.S. Senate in Georgia.