SF residents launch Obama LGBT super PAC
by Matthew S. Bajko
Two San Francisco residents have launched an LGBT super PAC with the goal of harnessing the power of social media to help re-elect President Barack Obama.
A straight woman and a gay man who work for Silicon Valley companies and tech start-ups formed the political action committee and are calling it the Pride PAC.
It is a grassroots twist to the more mainstream super PACs being financed by a handful of wealthy business people backing the Republican candidates. Obama himself recently dropped his objections over the secretive shadow campaign groups to allow his administration officials and supporters to fund their own super PAC.
The Pride PAC is operating separate from the official Obama re-election campaign and Priorities USA, the super PAC founded by former Obama aides.
"I don't think in American history there has been a super PAC focused on civil rights. It is normally focused on special interests," said co-founder Rose Dawydiak-Rapagnani, 24, the daughter of retired San Francisco police officers. "As we get closer to the election we want to show how powerful the LGBT community is. We can demonstrate that corporate America doesn't lead; that is the status quo right now with the super PACs."
An LGBT ally, Dawydiak-Rapagnani is the PAC's director of social media. In 2008 she was attending college overseas and voted for Obama by absentee ballot.
She is working with fellow co-founder Marcus Lovingood, 26, a gay man who moved to San Francisco in 2010.
Lovingood was an enthusiastic supporter of Obama's four years ago, and considering the anti-gay positions the Republican presidential candidates have taken, believes the president is LGBT voters' best choice this year.
"He has done more for the LGBT community in the last four years than has been done in the past 20 years," said Lovingood, the founder of FutureLeap, a social marketing and branding company for filmmakers. "We do have a champion in the White House."
"He is fighting for us and he will continue to do so," he added.
The pair quietly launched the Pride PAC online in early February and submitted paperwork to the Federal Election Commission on February 13. As of Tuesday, February 28, more than 1,350 people had liked the PAC's Facebook page.
The PAC founders would like to reach one million people and raise $1 million by the summer. They have just started fundraising and plan to hire a three-person staff this spring.
"If you are not able to donate, the best donation you can make is by sharing. Share us on Facebook with your friends and family," said Lovingood.
Their plans call for a sizeable rally this summer in San Francisco and helping others organize locally in their own communities. But most of their focus will be on producing online ads and web videos backing Obama they hope will then go viral.
"We have already had an incredible response on Facebook without much effort," said Dawydiak-Rapagnani.
How successful they will be remains an open question. Their first public event held Friday, February 24 at San Francisco’s City Hall failed to draw a crowd. Ten people showed up, which included a reporter and the PAC founders' fathers, though they did not expect many people to attend.
In an email afterward Lovingood wrote, "Our rally ended up a great success toward the latter part of the evening and we are very excited for the future of this endeavor."
For more information about the LGBT super PAC, visit http://www.pride-pac.com/.