Democratic megadonors target Georgia U.S. Senate fight after helping Joe Biden

  • Now that President-elect Joe Biden has defeated President Trump, Democratic megadonors are shifting gears toward the Senate fights in Georgia, which will decide the balance of power in the upper chamber.
  • Media moguls Jeff Katzenberg and Byron Allen are two of the co-hosts for a virtual fundraiser for Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock on Tuesday.
  • Reid Hoffman, a co-founder of LinkedIn and a partner at venture capital firm Greylock Partners, has started to encourage donors in his extensive network to give to the battle in Georgia.

Now that President-elect Joe Biden has defeated President Donald Trump, Democratic megadonors are shifting gears toward the U.S. Senate fights in Georgia, which will decide the balance of power in the upper chamber.

The race between Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Democratic challenger Raphael Warnock has been deemed a runoff by NBC News. The other Senate race, involving Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Sen. David Perdue has yet to be called by NBC News, although Georgia's secretary of state has said it would be going to a runoff.

In recent days, Democratic leaders, including those within the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, have reached out to some of the top donors and bundlers in the party to help with the two races.

The Georgia campaign is expected to cost over $100 million. For Republicans, the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC run by allies of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., will be leading the way in outside spending.

"The DSCC will play a pivotal role in Democrats' [get out the vote] programs in Georgia and we need your help to maximize our efforts," the committee told donors and financiers in a recent email that also points contributors to the Ossoff-Warnock Victory Fund.

The fund is a joint fundraising committee between Ossoff, Warnock and the DSCC, where donors can write big checks.

Representatives for Warnock and Ossoff did not return requests for comment.

A number of big money Democratic donors has been freed up to help in these races in the wake of their efforts in Biden's successful run for president. Many of the donors now getting involved were listed as helping raise over $100,000 for Biden.

The wealthy donors' involvement in Georgia also comes after several spent millions on a string of Senate races that, in some cases, ended up going toward Republicans.

Georgia will hold a hand recount of the presidential race as Biden holds a lead of more than 14,000 votes with more than 99% of the state's nearly 5 million votes counted.

The winners of the Georgia contests will decide who controls the Senate. As of now, the GOP will hold at least 50 seats in the Senate in January, according to NBC projections. If Democrats end up winning both Georgia races, they will have the majority due to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris' tiebreaking vote.

Media moguls Jeff Katzenberg and Byron Allen are two of the co-hosts for a virtual fundraiser for Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock on Tuesday, according to a person briefed on the matter. Tickets start at $54 and go up to $15,600, according to an invitation, which does not say the names of those hosting the virtual gathering. The funds will go toward the Georgia Senate Victory Fund, another joint fundraising committee between Warnock and Ossoff.

Those who declined to be named in this story did so in order to speak freely.

Reid Hoffman, a co-founder of LinkedIn and a partner at venture capital firm Greylock Partners, has started encouraging those in his extensive network to give to the battle in Georgia, according to another person familiar with the matter.

Hoffman did not return a request for comment.

Ron Conway, a longtime Silicon Valley investor, is also raising money for the two contenders, according to another source with direct knowledge of the matter.

Haim Saban, a film and television producer who brought the "Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers" to the United States, is leaving the door open to helping raise campaign cash in Georgia.

"I will always stand ready to help Democrats get elected," Saban told CNBC. He also expressed a sense of frustration with Democratic losses both in the House and in key Senate races. Democrats were expecting to make many more gains from contests in Maine, Iowa, Montana and North Carolina. They ended up losing those races.

Saban did not blame the outside groups that he contributed to for the losses, such as the House Majority PAC and Senate Majority PAC. Instead, he blamed progressives and their messaging that he says impacted moderate candidates.

"Fault lies with those on the far-left fringe of the party pushing an agenda … allowed Trump and Republicans to gleefully paint Democrats as socialists," Saban said. "These actions have potential to hamstring the Biden-Harris administration before it gets off the ground, and those responsible should be held accountable."

Progressive leaders, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., have defended the way those on the left handled the 2020 election and argue that issues such as "Medicare for All" helped in swing districts.

"All of the Democrats in swing districts who are Medicare for All co-sponsors won their re-elections, and all-but one of the Democrats in swing districts who are Green New Deal co-sponsors won their re-elections," the Justice Democrats and other progressive groups said in a post-election memo.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said in an op-ed published Wednesday that "corporate Democrats" are attacking policies he has championed.

"Now, with the blame game erupting, corporate Democrats are attacking so-called far-left policies like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal for election defeats in the House and the Senate. They are dead wrong," he said.

One megadonor who might not help Democrats in the Peach State is billionaire Mike Bloomberg. When CNBC asked one of his top political lieutenants whether he will give big during the Jan. 5 Georgia runoff, the advisor said Bloomberg had already given $5 million to Georgia Democratic activist Stacey Abrams' Fair Fight organization. Records show that donation came late last year.

Bloomberg has a net worth of just under $55 billion, according to Forbes.

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