I am a mother, a college professor, and someone who has worked for years in public service: writing legislation, policy papers and helping balance the state budget. Like many of us, after Donald Trump was elected President, I recognized that this country was going in the wrong direction and we urgently needed to engage with our communities and the political process in new ways.
So with the support of many friends, I challenged a 4-term Republican in one of the most diverse districts in the South – GA’s 7th Congressional District. This was a race that not many people thought we could win – but we closed a 20 point gap and came within 433 votes of unseating the incumbent. It was the closest congressional race in the country. After all that, my opponent decided to retire and I am back in the race. Which, is now considered one of the top prospects for Democratic pick-up.
Fundamentally, I believe in a country that is diverse, inclusive, global in its outreach and aspirations. I believe in a country where we care for one another and everyone has access to a doctor and quality affordable health care; I believe in a country where every mother and father wakes up and is excited about their kid’s future; I believe in a country where we lead and innovate to address the threat of climate change and the other the profound challenges of the 21st century.
I believe in our democracy. And as we look towards 2020, all of this is on the line.
My campaign began in living rooms across my district and that continues today. I don’t take corporate PAC money and I will fight in Congress for campaign finance reform so dark money special interests can’t take hold of our politicians any longer.
In the digital age we have an incredible opportunity to meet people from all walks of life where they are — and with what they care about. We now have so many avenues to connect from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and of course the dreaded fundraising email.
The ability to communicate in a targeted way has been used against Democrats. In 2016 Russians used it to interfere in our elections. But, there are many incredible tools too. Young people are able to connect with their elected official, ask questions- tweet at them and ask them where they stand on climate change, or women’s rights, or quality, affordable health care, and hold them accountable. It’s a tool I’ve used on my campaign to build community and I’d continue to use it in Congress.
I know I won’t be outworked, but I could be outspent. In fact, my likely Republican opponent, Renee Unterman just loaned herself $600,000 and last legislative session she authored Georgia’s fetal heartbeat bill- effectively banning abortions in Georgia. We have to make sure that Republicans are put on notice that their extreme views (and extreme funders) won’t fly. This means that community members, my friends, and my family have been hosting meetings in their living rooms, tweeting, facebook messaging, writing snail mail letters to their friends about why they should care about this race in Georgia.
Georgia’s 7th congressional district is one of the most diverse, rapidly growing districts in the country. It’s the future of America. But the movement doesn’t start with me. It’s really about what we choose to do in the next crucial 14 months, and about who we are as citizens. It’s these $5 and $10 contributions from people who believe in what we’re building, who believe in what we’re fighting for.
It’s how we win and bring some accountability back to Washington.