Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., reached out to top Democratic donor Bernard Schwartz to discuss the 2020 presidential campaign during the weeks before she announced that she would make a run at challenging President Donald Trump, CNBC has learned.
Schwartz, the CEO of BLS Investments, spoke to Gillibrand over the phone in recent weeks about the idea of her running for president, according to a person with direct knowledge of the conversation. Gillibrand signaled to him that she was likely to enter the race, and Schwartz, who was a key player in Democrats' 2018 fund-raising efforts, encouraged her to make the move, this person said.
This development comes as Gillibrand, like other prospective Democratic candidates, is trying to distance herself from being associated with big money in an attempt to show that she's going to build a campaign off of small grassroots donors.
Gillibrand has touted her voting record against financial industry interests since CNBC first reported two weeks ago that she had been in touch with Wall Street and New York business leaders about gaining their support for a presidential run. Later, CNBC reported that Sens. Cory Booker, Kamala Harris and a group of governors considering running for president have also held talks with Wall Street executives about potential 2020 campaigns.
Gillibrand announced that she would run for president during Tuesday night's episode of "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert."