Thank you so much for all your help Giving Smart so far. Our newest ask is one that’s close to both of us because it’s about our home state of New York.
New York State has voted for every Democratic presidential nominee since 1988, usually by an overwhelming margin. The State Assembly reflects that political reality with a huge Democratic majority. But with the exception of one brief interregnum in 2009, the upper chamber—the State Senate—has remained firmly under Republican control.
This year, that could change.
There’s no reason New York can’t be as progressive as California. The state could be leading the country on climate change, immigrant rights and universal health care. The state could enshrine reproductive justice in the state constitution. And instead of being notorious for anti-Democratic election practices, New York could be implementing a pro-voter agenda with automatic voter registration, pre-registration and expansive early voting.
Right now legislation the Climate and Community Protection Act (CCPA), which would create green jobs across the state and the Child Victims Act, which would raise the statute of limitations on crimes against children are blocked in the state Senate. We can change that.
So far, we’ve raised $710,000 down-ballot. Data for Progress (@DataProgress) is a New York-based think tank, and we want to make sure Democrats have a solid progressive majority in the state. So we’re rolling eight candidates in New York. We’ve set up an ActBlue page. Our ask is simple: $80 for eight pivotal New York state Senate candidates. No portion of the contributions to Give Smart goes to Data for Progress. All the money supports candidates.
As with before, we’ve analyzed these districts to ensure your money goes as far as possible. In a couple of cases, we differ from some district-watchers. For instance, some people think Rich Funke is a heavy favorite despite representing a district Clinton won with double-digits, so she’s been underfunded. We disagree and think that with Trump in office, split voting will be lower in the past. Plus, Funke didn’t have a Democrat on the ballot last year. We think we can catch him off guard.
Thanks to Ava Benezra (@avabenezra) of Working Families Party for her help with these candidates. Support Working Families Party here. And thanks to No IDC NY (@NoIDCNY) for some data. Support them here.
Also, 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.
Jen Metzger - NY-SD 47
Jen Metzger is an activist and a local town councilwoman, running to fill an empty seat in the Hudson Valley. Amongst the most committed progressives of all the candidates aiming to flip Republican-held Senate districts, Jen organized the resistance to NY’s Pilgrim crude oil pipeline and founded Citizens for Local Power, an organization that fights to lower utility costs by promoting a locally-based clean energy economy. By contrast, her opponent Annie Rabbit has supported numerous industry efforts to frack New York, is staunchly anti-choice (even in cases of rape), and is against health care expansion in NY. Jen’s district is entirely within CD19 - one of the most hotly contested congressional races in the country. A rising blue tide can lift all ships in CD19, and we believe the volunteer energy pouring into this up-ballot race gives Jen a strong shot.
John Mannion - NY-SD 50
John Mannion is a AP Biology teacher and a proud union member. As the president of his local of the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), he’s spent his life fighting for workers rights and strong public schools. His opponent, on the other hand, is a Trump surrogate who has been running for various elected offices for the past two decades. Mannion is running for an open seat in the suburbs outside Syracuse, just the type of district that is revolting against Trump. This is the first time the voters in this district have been given a strong challenge to vote for in decades - the previous office-holder was in the seat for 26 years, and kept winning based off of the power of his incumbency. But in 2016 Clinton won this district by five points, and in 2012 Obama won it by twelve - we believe John can as well.
Andrew Gounardes - NY-SD 22
Democrats have a 2-1 majority in SD22, where Senator Marty Golden is one of the last Republican holdouts in New York City. Golden has had a series of scandals in recent years, including his staunch support of his Proud Boys-member staffer and his support of a bill to end speed cameras in NYC despite personally having hit and killed a woman with his car. These issues and more have curtailed his popularity with voters in his district and energized an army of volunteers in Brooklyn. Gounardes has promised to vote in favor of the NY Health Act and the Climate and Community Protection Act - and a movement of grassroots support is intent on seeing him do so.
Jen Lunsford - NY-SD 55
By any objective measure Democrats should hold the 55th District. Both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton won 56% of the vote here in the Rochester suburbs. Yet Rich Funke has been able to hold the seat by dint of his residual popularity as a local broadcaster. Hopefully the Trump era is showing the fine people of Monroe County that there is no such thing as a good or moderate Republican but Jen Lunsford needs to be able to get her message of providing universal healthcare, ramping up renewable energy and legalizing marijuana out to the masses.
Monica Martinez - NY-SD 3
Monica Martinez immigrated to America from El Salvador at the age of 3 and has spent her entire adult life giving back to her new home. First as a teacher, then as a school administrator, then as a county legislator. Now she’s running for state Senate in an open seat that Obama won by 12 points but narrowly flipped to voting for Trump. Her opponent is state assemblyman Dean Murray, best known for using electronic tracking devices on his political opponents. In spite of (or perhaps because of) his shady past he’s been able to outraise Martinez, but with grassroots support she can close the gap.
Aaron Gladd - NY-SD-43
Nobody can say that Aaron Gladd didn’t work for everything he had. He grew up on food stamps, sleeping on friends’ couches and in cars as he worked his way through high school, then college, then enlisting in the Army and shipping out to Afghanistan. After he returned he dedicated his career to fighting poverty in Upstate New York. Now he’s running for state Senate in a marginal open seat (it voted narrowly for Trump after supporting Obama by 8) on a platform of providing health care and education to everyone, regardless of who their parents are. It’s an inspiring story, but one that he needs help getting out.
Karen Smythe - NY-SD 41
The 41st voted for both Obama and Clinton yet is represented by ideologue Sue Serino, who is against gun safety, protecting women’s health, fighting corruption and reversing climate change. Karen Smythe is a lifelong Hudson Valley native who’s running to reflect the actual views of the district, but Serino’s been able to use her Albany connections to outraise Smythe, but only narrowly. This race is destined to be a close one (Clinton only won the seat by less than 1%) so every little bit helps here.
Jeremy Cooney - NY-SD 56
Incumbent Joseph Robach has always put one thing first in his political career: Joseph Robach. First elected as a Democrat, he switched parties not out of ideological differences but because he was mad at a redistricting plan. Now he holds a seat in the most gerrymandered state legislative body in the nation. He’s also consistently opposed equality and a state DREAM Act even though he sits in a seat that voted for Clinton and Obama by double digits. He’s also in charge of the Senate Transportation Committee in case you aren’t particularly impressed with infrastructure in the state. Jeremy Cooney’s running an energetic race against him, but he can’t do it on his own.