A fundraiser launched by progressive bloggers as part of an increasingly aggressive response to White House backsliding on health care reform has out-raised any such effort in the past.
Donations in support of Democrats who back a public insurance option as part of health care reform have topped $100,000 from more than 1,500 donors in 24 hours and counting.
The most successful effort to date had been organized around the online community's opposition to retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies that collaborated with the Bush administration to spy on Americans. The issue galvanized liberals, but community only raised about $350,000 over the course of a month, said Howie Klein, Blue America PAC's founder and treasurer.
"I've never seen anything like this before," said Klein. "This is the biggest one."
The effort is being driven by FireDogLake.com and backed by blogs across the country. It was launched in reaction to the White House signaling over the weekend that it was backing off the public option as key to health care reform. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Sunday that a public option was "not essential"; Obama himself called it a "sliver" of the total reform effort; spokesman Bill Burton, on Tuesday, called it "just a piece" of the overhaul.
As recently as July, Obama pledged in a weekly address that "any plan I sign must include an insurance exchange -- a one-stop shopping marketplace where you can compare the benefits, costs and track records of a variety of plans, including a public option to increase competition and keep insurance companies honest, and choose what's best for your family."
The benefit to individual members goes beyond the dollar amount. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), for instance, had a grand total of one ActBlue donor since the site launched in 2004. (Somebody gave him $25 in November 2006.) While he raised roughly $1,100 over the first 24 hours, it came from 460 donors -- meaning he now has 459 more progressive e-mails he can add to his fundraising network and hit up for contributions in the future.
Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.) hadn't gotten a single donation through Blue America. She's now been on the receiving end of 461 gifts, averaging just under three bucks each.
Ryan Grim is the author of This Is Your Country On Drugs: The Secret History of Getting High in America