The "Ready for Hillary" offices in Arlington, Virginia, look the same as they've looked for months: the "#ready" posters and photos of Hillary Clinton are still hanging on the walls, staffers are still at their desks, and the volunteers are still mailing "Ready for Hillary" t-shirts and coffee mugs out to customers across the country.
In other words, there's little indication that the group, which launched two years ago to support the former secretary of State, is just weeks away from shutting down. They're still signing up as many people as they can, raising money at a rapid clip, and planning events into next month—all while knowing, as they have right from the start, that their group closes as soon as their candidate announces she's running.
"For us, if you look back, I don't know that historically there's anything to compare it to," said Adam Parkhomenko, the group's executive director. "This is the moment everybody's been waiting for."
But for the 29 staffers at Ready for Hillary, that's not enough to keep the moment from being bittersweet. A group founded in part to push Clinton to run is getting its wish—but the fulfillment marks the end of two years' worth of work together on a common cause.
"They're genuinely really excited about her announcing her decision, but at the same time, I think they're really going to miss coming to the Ready for Hillary office and seeing each other every day," Parkhomenko told me of his colleagues. "Two years is a long time."
And for most of the group's staff, Clinton's official arrival will mean something else: unemployment—at least temporarily—and uncertainty over where to work next.
The natural jump would be to Clinton's campaign, but those jobs aren't easy to come by. Clinton's orbit includes veterans of her husband's presidency, allies from her Senate tenure, staff from her 2008 presidential run, and advisers from her time as secretary of State and after. Combined with the job-seeking members of President Obama's twice-successful campaign apparatus, that has made the 2016 job market for would-be Clinton campaign hands extremely competitive. So far, of the Clinton hires that have been leaked, none have been from Ready for Hillary's ranks. The best sign for hope the staffers have is that one hire, Adrienne Elrod, came from a different outside pro-Clinton group, Correct the Record.
Asked about this, Parkhomenko said only that the work Ready for Hillary staffers have done would make them great candidates for any job—and that he also has "no idea" what comes next for himself. "The work they've done here and the successful manner they've done it [in], I think opens doors for them to do all sorts of work," he said.
Ready for Hillary staffers all acknowledge that the plan was always for them to wind down when Clinton announced her decision either way, so the uncertainty of the next few weeks was expected. And given the speculation last fall that Clinton would announce her decision in December 2014 or very early in 2015, the group has already had a longer run than many thought it would.
Exactly how the group's wind-down will work is still being figured out, aides say. The basic plan is that once Clinton makes an announcement, Ready for Hillary will let its entire supporter base—via email and social media—know that they should sign on with the official campaign and will direct them to her official website.
Though it has a large network of supporters across the country, the group's actual paid staff of 29 is fairly small. By later this spring or this summer, Parkhomenko said, the staff still on board will be absolutely minimal: The group's next Federal Election Commission report, for the first six months of 2015, is due in July, so by this summer, filing the report will be all that's left of the group's tasks.
"We have a relatively small staff, we don't have a lot of physical items and things like that in the office," he said. "There'll be at least one compliance staffer working with the attorneys to prepare the [Federal Elections Commission] report and so forth, but when she announces a decision, our work is complete—and that's it," he said.
In the meantime, they're going full steam ahead—and then some. The group has continued bringing in new donors to its finance council, which requires a donation of $5,000. It's also continuing to sign up new supporters as fast as it can: The group currently has about 3.6 million contacts on its email list, which they expect will hit the 4 million mark by the time it's handed over to Clinton's campaign. (The details of the list swap are among the aspects of the transition that have yet to be ironed out.)
"Every day that goes by is another day she's never going to get back, and we want to maximize every one of those days," Parkhomenko said, adding that "there's no marker in the sand" after which the group will stop planning events. Right now, the latest event on the calendar is a Tuesday fundraiser in Hawaii, but others are in the works for early April. ("We're certainly not planning anything in August right now, but we continue to add dates on the calendar," he added.)
Terry Shumaker, a longtime supporter of the Clintons who advises the group in New Hampshire, said it is still holding house parties there, adding that the frequent Ready for Hillary action in his home state is keeping Democrats from getting antsy about the parade of GOP hopefuls who've been coming through in recent months. Clinton held her last 2014 midterm appearance in New Hampshire, on behalf of Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Gov. Maggie Hassan on Nov. 2, but she hasn't returned since.
"People see their Republican friends going to see this candidate or that candidate," he said. "The Clintons "¦ have a lot of friends and supporters, and there were people who wanted to do something to encourage her to run, but they really had no way to do it without Ready for Hillary. We've provided an outlet for that energy and what I call 'pent-up enthusiasm.'"
Correction: Joining the finance council requires a $5,000 donation. A previous version contained incorrect information.
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