More than 450 people, including LGBT activists, turned out for D.C.’s first official rally and fundraiser Thursday night for Ready for Hillary, the independent super PAC formed earlier this year to urge former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to run for president in 2016.
As many of the attendees entered Look restaurant and lounge on the 1900 block of K St., N.W., where the event took place, they were greeted by veteran D.C. gay rights and civic activist Phil Pannell, who was among the volunteers staffing a check-in table.
“I’m really excited to be here and excited about Hillary,” said Pannell, who is among a growing number of D.C.-area LGBT activists who supported Barack Obama over Clinton in the 2008 presidential race but who are enthusiastic Clinton supporters now.
“Like so many people I know, I want to be a part of this,” Pannell said.
In keeping with their policy of encouraging support from small donors, organizers of the Ready for Hillary rally Thursday night set the admission price at $20.16.
Gay Democratic activist Peter Rosenstein, one of Ready for Hillary’s early supporters, said that same admission price will be in place for the organization’s next event in D.C. that will target a specific LGBT audience. Called “Out and Ready for Hillary,” the event will take place Jan. 15 at the gay nightclub Town Danceboutique.
Among those working on plans for the January event is Lisa Changadveja, Ready for Hillary’s LGBT Americans director. Changadvja announced the January event at Town from the stage at the rally Thursday night.
In an interview with the Blade in November, Changadveja said she and a corps of volunteers will be setting up Ready for Hillary booths at LGBT Pride events across the country in 2014.
“We’re here to encourage her to run in 2016 because she has the grassroots support behind her and she has the LGBT community behind her if and when she decides to run,” Changadveja said.
U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), the first member of Congress to officially endorse Clinton for president in 2016, told the gathering Thursday night that he sees support for a Clinton candidacy growing in his home state of Ohio and all parts of the country.
“What we want this campaign to be is something that ushers in the new era of politics in the United States, that Hillary can break the logjam in Washington, D.C. and move our country forward,” he said. “And with your help she’s going to be able to do that.”
Among the LGBT activist leaders listed as members of the host committee for the January Ready for Hillary event at Town nightclub are veteran transgender advocate Dana Beyer; gay Democratic National Committee member and Center for Black Equity CEO Earl Fowlkes; gay Democratic activist Lane Hudson; Gertrude Stein Democratic Club Secretary Jimmie Luthuli; and gay restaurant manager and civic activist Dito Sevilla. Rosenstein is also a member of the host committee.