Alison Hartson continues to crush field in small-dollar donations


May 8, 2018


With candidates across the country clamoring to brand themselves progressive, only one candidate in the U.S. Senate race in California is collecting nearly three-fourths of her campaign finances from donations of $200 or less. She boasts an average donation of $29.

Alison Hartson, a 37-year-old Justice Democrat challenging 84-year-old incumbent Dianne Feinstein, has blown away her competition by running a campaign funded almost entirely by small-dollar donations. Recent Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings indicate Hartson has financed nearly 75% of her campaign with small, individual contributions. Her next closest opponent is at under 25%.

“When we look at the numbers, it is crystal clear who the people’s candidate is in this race,” said Joe Spaulding, Hartson’s campaign policy advisor. “Alison’s message isn’t an empty promise. She has the experience fighting corruption in our government. She has the moral fortitude to refuse all corporate and dark money, and she has the voters behind her.”

Spaulding alluded to Hartson’s five-year stint as National Director of a nonprofit whose sole mission is to end political corruption. Under Hartson’s lead, Wolf-PAC was able to pass measures in 5 states. This work will eventually lead to a constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United and related cases.

Hartson is beating even Senator Bernie Sanders’ small-dollar donation percentage during his 2016 presidential run. Sanders reported raising 67.79% of his campaign finances through donations of $200 or less, with an average of $27 each. Sanders overwhelmingly won the youth vote and grabbed more of the 18-30 voter base than his opponents Hillary Clinton and current President Donald Trump combined.

“Anybody with a basic understanding of math comprehends the significance of Alison’s numbers,” said Cenk Uygur, a Hartson campaign advisor and founder and host of The Young Turks. “She is the progressive candidate in this race. The numbers don’t lie, and here they indicate one candidate is gaining more support from individual people -- individual voters -- than any other person in this race.”

Feinstein and Senate Pro Temp Kevin De Leon report receiving PAC money while Hartson refuses PAC contributions. De Leon, who claims he is the progressive challenger to Feinstein, reports 6.34% of his campaign finances come from PAC money (dark money), nearly as much as Feinstein’s 8.59% PAC contributions.

“You can’t claim to be a progressive while taking money from political action committees,” said Hartson. “This system is a huge part of the problem and prevents us from passing the policies we need. True Progressives know this. Meanwhile, the Democratic Establishment is using politics as usual to fool the voters by throwing around the word ‘progressive’. We’re done being fooled.”

Hartson’s grassroots, volunteer-focused campaign strategy has also helped propel her past her opponents on social media. Hartson’s engagement on Facebook, for example, is nearly 6 times that of the other candidates who consistently hover at 1% and below, with Feinstein at 0%. On the ground, she has amassed an army of more than 1,700 volunteers.

“This campaign is about a movement,” said Hartson. “It is about people standing together and saying, ‘enough is enough.’ We are done begging our politicians to do the right thing. We are done pleading with them to refuse corporate and dark money. As an electorate, we are moving on.”

The FEC numbers support Hartson’s claim. Only 5.1% of Feinstein’s campaign is funded by donations of $200 or less. De Leon reports just 7.87% of his money comes from small-dollar contributions.

“This isn’t a contest,” said Spaulding. “It’s either voters choose the one progressive candidate in the race or they elect more of the same to represent California in Washington.”

Alison Hartson is a True Progressive running for U.S. Senate in California. A former school teacher turned activist, Hartson spent 5 years at the helm of Wolf-PAC, an organization working for a 28th constitutional amendment to get money out of politics in this country once and for all. Hartson’s platform includes Medicare for all, a $15 minimum wage tied to inflation, Maximum income and a swift shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. Learn more about Alison Hartson at

Alison Hartson