It’s hard to write right now because we’re at a loss for words.
We thought that if we were lucky we’d raise maybe $20,000 for our slate of eight candidates who could flip eight state legislatures blue. But as we’re writing this on Wednesday night, barely 36 hours after the fundraiser started, that number stands at $200,000 and counting. That’s $25,000 per candidate and that money goes far down-ballot.
We knew that you cared, we knew that you were generous, we just didn’t know that you cared so much and could be so generous.
We’re also so glad that we showed progressives are willing to Give Smart. That our movement understands that we have the greatest impact when we build the party from the ground up. That we’re crafty enough to find the places where the Koch money tree and other reactionaries are weakest. Together, we can do this.
And by Giving Smart we can make the biggest impact. $25,000 might get you 10 ads on TV in Minneapolis. But look at what Kristin Bahner, running for a seat in the suburb of Maple Grove, is going to do with her money:
“Now the campaign is looking at hiring not one, but five canvassers and putting out digital ads. It’s also considering whether there’s enough time before the election to send a piece of mail around the district, and there’s even talk of a radio ad.”
That’s all thanks to you. And after reading stories like that, we can’t help but ask you to donate to another group of state legislative candidates.
We picked our initial list of eight candidates ourselves. And we like to think we did a pretty damn good job, at least based on how well you reacted to our request.
Seeing the momentum, we asked groups we trust to contribute lists of their own. We still vet every candidate based on the methodology we discussed here, to make sure every dollar you spend is going as far as it can. Our first list comes from EveryDistrict, a grassroots group focused on winning down-ballot races.
So here at Data For Progress we’re making a simple request - $80 to spend across these eight candidates. We’ve set up an ActBlue page for you to make those donations, and you can find more about each of the candidates below. We’re calling it our Give Smart initiative. No portion of the contributions to Give Smart goes to Data for Progress. All the money supports candidates.
You can support Data for Progress here. These contributions will not support the Give Smart candidates, but rather general operating support for the think tank.
We didn’t put the Ohio legislature on our initial list because it’s not going to flip in 2018. But with the gubernatorial race neck-and-neck, we want to be sure that if Democrat Richard Cordray wins he doesn’t have to face a Republican legislature with a supermajority that can overturn his vetoes. Right now they just need to win seven seats back in the House or five in the Senate (which, due to staggered terms, would be a two-cycle lift) to ensure that doesn’t happen. And EveryDistrict is backing three candidates in the most flippable districts. You don’t have to take our word for it, the Columbus Dispatch is saying the same thing.
Of course, we don’t always side with the nonpartisan observers. For example, few think Democrats will flip the Pennsylvania House. But as we noted before we even started asking you for money, if Democrats sweep the GOP-held seats that voted for Clinton or Obama (similar to what they did in the Virginia House of Delegates in 2017) then they’ll get a majority with room to spare. So we’re happy to highlight two of their candidates running in those chambers.
And we already asked you to donate to candidates to flip the Michigan House and Arizona Senate. But the Michigan Senate and Arizona House are also in play. While the Michigan Senate is an uphill climb, our Michigan sources told us that the seats up in this cycle are actually on pretty favorable ground. And Arizona’s House districts are actually the same as their Senate districts, so if we can flip one then we can flip the other. That’s why we’re asking you to support candidates running in those states.
Much like last time we have no idea how much we’ll be able to send to these candidates. Maybe we’ll raise $10,000. Maybe it’ll be $200,000. The only thing that we can promise you here is that your money will go far.
(biographies provided by EveryDistrict)
Sharon Sweda, OH SD 13
Sharon Sweda, the daughter of a UAW 425 Auto worker, is a successful small businesswoman who has run her own real estate agency with her husband for the last 30 years. Her firm now has offices in four cities in the 13th District. As State Senator, Sharon will ensure that citizens of Ohio have access to affordable healthcare and quality public education. This is in stark contrast to her opponent, Nathan Manning, a current State Representative running for a promotion to the State Senate, who co-sponsored legislation to undo Medicaid expansion. He’s voted the party line on a number of issues, from loosening gun safety regulations to restricting access to the ballot box.
Allison Russo, OH HD 24
Republicans’ gutting of education funding has led to a rash of teacher strikes across the country. Ohio’s public education crisis hasn’t received the same level of national attention, but the GOP’s attempt to undermine public schools is no less egregious. In Ohio, Republican legislators have not only massively underfunded public education at the expense of voucher programs and charter schools, they’ve also become embroiled in one of the worst corruption scandals in the state’s history as a result. A public health policy expert, Allison Russo has spent nearly two decades advising government leaders and policymakers on issues related to the healthcare financing and care delivery needs of seniors, vulnerable populations, Veterans, and military families. She’s also a passionate advocate for women and families, serving on the Women’s Leadership Council of the United Way of Central Ohio, and she’s the creator of the Girls Who Lead after-school program.
Casey Weinstein, OH HD 37
Casey Weinstein is a local elected official; he was elected to serve on the Hudson City Council in 2015. On the City Council, he’s focused on economic development, broadband expansion, and partnering with private groups to enhance city parks. In Dayton, he was recognized as a ‘Top 40 Under 40’ Community Leader. In Casey’s family, public service is a way of life. His grandfather, father, brother, brother-in-law, and wife all served or are serving in the armed forces.
Jennifer Jermaine, AZ HD 18
Jennifer Jermaine has spent years in the nonprofit sector, helping people start and succeed in small businesses. She is the co-founder of Stronger Together Arizona and the We the People Summit, both of which empower individuals to strategize and collaborate to influence public policy. She has a Master’s in Public Administration from ASU and decided early on that her calling is to work for positive change in the public sector. Her focus is on restoring education funding, protecting civil rights, and honoring our shared values.
Rosemary Bayer, MI SD 12
Rosemary Bayer has spent her professional career working in information technology. She started as a computer engineer and analyst, finding and inventing products to solve real business problems. She is the co-founder and Chief Inspiration Officer of ardentCause L3C, a database technology company serving nonprofit organizations with database products and services. She was also a co-founder of the Michigan Council of Women in Technology (MCWT). Her analytical background is in marked contrast to the Republicans who control the Michigan legislature. Despite the overwhelming evidence to support climate change - and the recent dire report from the UN - Republicans in Michigan have spent the past few years undermining climate science at every turn. They proposed eliminating references to climate change in school curriculum and replacing the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s decision-making authority with private-sector-based panels of industry representatives.
Poppy Sias-Hernandez, MI SD 34
Poppy Sias-Hernandez is already active in her community as an advocate for equity and social justice. She has deep roots in public health. Early on in her professional career, she worked for Planned Parenthood of Michigan as a Community Health Educator and then as a Program Coordinator. Since 2009, she has served as a certified Substance Abuse Prevention Specialist for the Michigan Board of Addiction & Prevention Professionals. She led a Muskegon County Farm to School Initiative, BOOM Youth Leadership program, and other efforts geared toward increasing community voice in needed change efforts. At the state level, she has advocated for policies to keep all Michigan students safe and supported both in and out of Michigan’s schools. She currently directs a non-profit “Good for Youth,” which provides training and networking opportunities for youth-serving professionals.
Sara Johnson Rothman, PA HD 151
Sara Johnson Rothman is a former special victims prosecutor, an education law attorney, the Vice President of the Upper Dublin School Board, and a mom of two children. When she worked for the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office, she specialized in crimes against women and children. In February of 2014, she was appointed to the Upper Dublin School Board and subsequently elected in November of 2015 to a 4-year term. As a school board member, Sara is the Chair the Policy Committee, serves on the Operations Committee, and serves on the District’s contract negotiating teams. Since becoming Chair of the Policy Committee, Sara has led the update of hundreds of the District’s policies and administrative regulations including the anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies. In May of 2016, Upper Dublin became the second school district in Pennsylvania to adopt a policy protecting gender expansive and transgender students.
Claudette Williams, PA HD 176
Claudette Williams is the President of Council for the borough of Mt Pocono. She is the first woman of color to be elected to this position. She is also the Chair of the Monroe County Democratic Committee and the first African American to hold the chair of any political party in the County’s history. Claudette served for 30 years in the United States Army, achieving the rank of Sergeant Major. She led soldiers in missions to Iraq, Afghanistan, Dubai, the Oman regions, Kuwait, and several other areas in Southwest Asia. She currently works with immigrant communities to help individuals gain permanent residence and citizenship.
EveryDistrict (EveryDistrict.us) is a people-powered fundraising organization that believes Democrats can run and win everywhere when more citizens are involved in our political process. We use unparalleled data analysis and innovative peer-to-peer fundraising strategies to empower grassroots activists and their networks to channel resources to turn state legislatures blue and to create progressive change in their backyards.