Running local candidates everywhere is the best way to advance the Democratic Party’s brand

3 mins read
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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about a Run For Something candidate from 2018 whose path to victory required winning over folks outside the reliable Democratic voters in her district — the notorious GOPers and independents we mythologize.

She told me how she once knocked on the door of an independent-lean-GOP voter in her midwestern town.

“Hi, I’m ___, I’m running for [local office]. I want to talk to you about your [a local issue, like property taxes.]”

The voter was surprised to see her and invited her in.

They talked for a while — at one point, he told her: “You know, in all my time living here, I’ve never actually met a candidate asking for my vote before. Republicans assume they have my vote in the bag and Democrats assume they don’t have a chance.”

He told her he didn’t like her party, but he appreciated that she showed up and tried to earn his vote. “If you win, you’re going to shake shit up?” he asked. She nodded. “You’ve got my vote.”

That conversation she had did more to advance the Democratic party’s brand than any ad or any national candidate ever could.

And worth noting: she wasn’t unusual. Many of our candidates are the first Democrats to run in their district in years/decades; or are the first to actually knock on someone’s door, often ever.

If we had a good Democratic candidate running for every single one of the 500k+ elected offices in the U.S., they would literally be able to personally talk to every possible voter in the country a few times over.

Running folks for local office is a supercharged field campaign, with the additional impact of winning power, implementing progressive policies, and making structural changes (like redistricting and expanding the right to vote!) to ensure it’s never rigged against us again.

Relative to nearly every other turn-out tactic, recruiting and supporting local candidates is low cost and high ROI, and it compounds on itself to get cheaper as we go. More people running inspires more people to run.

Anyway. If your Thanksgiving dinner conversation includes a hypothetical “what’s the best way to to spend $100 million in 2020” game, consider this post my suggestion.

Originally posted on Twitter. Re-posted with permission.


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Co-Founder and Executive Director, Run for Something. Hillary Clinton’s email director. (The other emails.) Responsible for raising more than $330 million online. Charlie Crist’s digital director when he ran for governor in 2014. One of the first employees at Organizing for Action as deputy email director. Email writer for Barack Obama’s re-elect. Northwestern University graduate. Bookworm. Feminist. Nationals fan. Dog owner.

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