Politics

Kamala Harris' national finance chair prepares to back Joe Biden as former VP starts 2020 with a fundraising boost

Key Points
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden is on the verge of acquiring a key fundraiser as he looks for a boost toward the Democratic nomination.
  • Jon Henes, a partner at the law firm Kirkland & Ellis, has indicated to friends he's looking to move ahead with opening his extensive donor network to Biden.
  • Biden also picked up support of longtime Wall Street executive, Mark Gallogly.  
  • A fundraising event with Henes as a host is expected to take place in February, one of these sources added.
Democratic presidential hopeful former Vice President Joe Biden laughs during the sixth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season co-hosted by PBS NewsHour & Politico at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California on December 19, 2019.
Frederic J. Brown | AFP | Getty Images

Joe Biden is on the verge of picking up a key fundraiser who was Sen. Kamala Harris' national finance chairman when she was running for the White House.

Jon Henes, a partner at the law firm Kirkland & Ellis, has indicated to friends and Biden's close allies that he's looking to move ahead with opening his extensive donor network to the former vice president, according to people with direct knowledge of the situation. These people spoke to CNBC on the condition of anonymity because the deliberations were deemed private.

Henes is expected to host a fundraising event in February, one of these sources said.

Henes would be the latest former Harris financier to come over to Biden as the former vice president looks to capture the Democratic nomination. Biden recently saw the addition of Wall Street executives Marc Lasry and Blair Effron, who had assisted Harris.

Beyond previous Harris backers, Biden has captured many other wealthy fundraisers who were helping former primary candidates. Wall Street titan Mark Gallogly has decided to support Biden after assisting former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke, according to a Biden campaign aide who declined to be named as these decisions are often made privately.

"Joe Biden is the best person to beat Donald Trump. He has the experience, character and temperament to win the nomination, the presidency and lead our nation," Gallogly confirmed to CNBC.

Gallogly helped President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton raise at least $1 million when they ran each ran for president, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

Louis Susman, a veteran fundraiser who was a key backer of Obama when he ran for president but was in O'Rourke's camp, is also now helping Biden. Biden also picked up support from former backers of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock.

Biden announced last week that his campaign raised $22.7 million in the fourth quarter, and, while it was his best cash haul so far, the total was still behind two rivals, Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

The Democratic National Convention is set for July in Milwaukee. The first voting contests are in February. Biden is in first place in national polls, followed by Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Buttigieg and former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg.

Henes was a key player for Harris' fundraising operation. In addition to being one of Harris' top donors, Henes helped raise over $400,000 for the California senator while she was in the race, according to a source familiar with the effort. The one-term senator dropped out of the primary in December, citing a lack of financial support to continue.

Henes also has ties to Clinton's 2016 run for president. He helped bring in over $100,000 for her campaign when she took on President Donald Trump.

Henes did not return a request for comment.

The latest apparent jumps to Biden from Harris and other former candidates could represent a loss for Buttigieg, who has become a moderate alternative for many wealthy donors. He had a strong fourth quarter, raking in $24.7 million, and recently published a list of bundlers who have each helped him raise over $25,000.

Those helping Buttigieg include Hollywood film producer Nicole Avant, Rockefeller heir Justin Rockefeller and hedge fund executive Orin Kramer.

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