Sister District 2020 Wave 1 Candidates are Here!

11 mins read

Today, we are thrilled to announce our first wave of 2020 endorsements. Supporting these 19 incredible candidates helps us achieve three of our strategic goals: flipping chambers blue, holding chambers blue, and making inroads into badly gerrymandered states.

We have matched each of our 100+ volunteer teams to at least one candidate for support throughout the entire campaign cycle. Our teams are already getting to work with fundraising to provide critical early money. We are also working with campaign staff so that our volunteers can start phonebanking, textbanking, and writing postcards (maintaining social distance, of course!) for their candidates as soon as possible. We will be able to announce additional races as filing deadlines and primary elections pass.

2020 Wave 1 Candidates

PENNSYLVANIA

Brittney Rodas – House of Representatives District 105
Nancy Guenst – House of Representatives District 152
Jonathan Kassa – House of Representatives District 151

NORTH CAROLINA

Sydney Batch – House of Representatives District 37
Sarah Crawford – State Senate District 18
Brian Farkas – House of Representatives District 09
Frances Jackson – House of Representatives District 45

TEXAS

Sharon Hirsch – House of Representatives District 66
Ann Johnson – House of Representatives District 134

MICHIGAN

Laurie Pohutsky – House of Representatives District 19

WISCONSIN

Robyn Vining – Assembly District 14

GEORGIA

Shea Roberts – House of Representatives District 52

MINNESOTA

Bonnie Westlin – State Senate District 34
Ann Johnson Stewart – State Senate District 44

FLORIDA

Cindy Polo – House of Representatives District 103

ARIZONA

Coral Evans – House of Representatives Legislative District 6 
Felicia French – State Senate Legislative District 6
Doug Ervin – State Senate Legislative District 20
Judy Schwiebert – House of Representatives Legislative District 20

WHY IS PENNSYLVANIA IMPORTANT?

To flip these chambers, Democrats need to win 4 Senate seats and 9 House seats. Momentum is on our side: in 2018, Democrats broke a Republican supermajority in the Senate and flipped a dozen State House seats. We can build on this energy to flip at least one chamber in 2020.

Flipping a chamber would give Democrats a critical seat at the redistricting table, particularly for Congressional redistricting. Republican state legislators have brutally gerrymandered PA’s Congressional districts. And the political commission in PA that draws state legislative maps has also permitted terribly gerrymandered maps. As an example, in 2018, PA’s Democratic State House candidates received 54% of the vote, but only won 45% of the seats. We can prevent this from happening again by flipping a chamber and ensuring that Democrats have a voice in the next round of redistricting.

Flipping a chamber blue is especially important because the PA Governor does not have veto power over state legislative maps. So while Democratic Governor Wolf will be in office during the next round of redistricting, we’ll still need Democratic control of a chamber to have a say in the outcome.

These are ‘last chance’ races: whoever is elected to the PA state legislature in 2020 will draw the next round of district lines.

WHY IS NORTH CAROLINA IMPORTANT?

To flip these chambers, Democrats need to win 5 Senate seats and 6 House seats Momentum is on our side: in 2018, Democrats broke Republican supermajorities in both chambers. We can build on this energy to flip at least one chamber in 2020.

Flipping a chamber would give Democrats a critical seat at the redistricting table. As in many states, Republicans in North Carolina brutally gerrymandered the maps in their favor in the last round of redistricting. As one example, 2018 Democratic candidates for NC House received 51% of the vote, but only won 45% of the seats.

We can prevent this by flipping a chamber and ensuring that Democrats have a voice in the next round of redistricting. This is particularly important because the Governor in NC does not have veto power over the maps. So even when Democratic Governor Roy Cooper wins re-election, we will still need Democratic control of a chamber to have a say in redistricting.

As happened in Virginia in 2019, a number of NC districts have recently been redrawn, after courts held they were illegally gerrymandered in favor of Republicans. The new maps are not a slam-dunk for Democrats, but they do provide new opportunities.

Democratic Governor Roy Cooper is up for re-election in 2020. It’ll be a competitive race, and his reelection campaign will help drive resources and get-out-the-vote efforts for down-ballot candidates.

These are ‘last chance’ races: whoever is elected in 2020 will draw the next round of district lines.

WHY IS MICHIGAN IMPORTANT?

To flip the House, Democrats need to win 4 seats. Momentum is on our side: in 2018, Democrats broke a Republican supermajority in the Senate, gained 5 seats in the House, and broke a Republican trifecta by electing Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer. We can build on this energy to flip the House in 2020.

Flipping this chamber would finally give Governor Whitmer a partner in the legislature, which under GOP control has recalcitrantly refused to work with her to govern effectively.

WHY IS WISCONSIN IMPORTANT?

In 2018, Democratic candidates received 200,000 more votes than Republicans and won all statewide offices, but are teetering on the brink of superminority in the Assembly. Just 2 years ago, Democrats received 54% of the vote for State Assembly, but won only 36% of the seats, all due to Republican gerrymandering.

The GOP already has a supermajority in the WI Senate, which makes the House super important: the GOP is just 3 seats away from gaining a supermajority in the House. Fending off a Republican supermajority in the House will allow Democrats to retain a seat at the redistricting table. If we can keep the GOP from gaining a supermajority, we can retain Democratic Governor Evers’ veto power over the next set of maps.

These are ‘last chance’ races: whoever is elected to the WI state legislature in 2020 will draw the next round of district lines.

WHY IS GEORGIA IMPORTANT?

Georgia’s state legislature is poised for Democratic gains. Despite rampant voter suppression and racial gerrymandering by Republicans, Democrats were able to flip 11 seats in the House and 2 in the Senate in 2018. And Democrat Stacey Abrams within 1.5% of becoming the nation’s first African-American woman to be elected as Governor.

These are ‘last chance’ races: whoever is elected to the state legislature in 2020 will draw the next round of district lines. It is our last chance to build power in Georgia’s legislature ahead of redistricting, which has implications for the next entire decade.

WHY IS MINNESOTA IMPORTANT?

The Minnesota Senate is our pick for the best Democratic chamber-flip opportunity of 2020. Democrats are down just 2 seats in this chamber, which has not been up since 2016. This means there are great districts that have trended towards Democrats since their last election, which are ripe for flipping this year.

Flipping this chamber would deliver a Democratic trifecta to the state of Minnesota, since Governor Tim Walz is a Democrat who is not up in 2020, and Democrats flipped the state house blue in 2018.

These are ‘last chance’ races: whoever is elected in 2020 will draw the next round of district lines.

WHY IS FLORIDA IMPORTANT?

Florida’s state legislature is poised for Democratic gains. In 2018, Democrat Andrew Gillum narrowly lost the Governor’s race to Republican Ron DeSantis by less than half a point, and Democrats flipped two Congressional and 7 State Senate seats.

GOP state legislators drew the state’s Congressional and state legislative district lines in their favor after the last round of redistricting in 2010. Following successful legal challenges, the Florida Senate district lines were redrawn in 2015 to be less gerrymandered, but the House remains badly gerrymandered in favor of Republicans.

Nonetheless, there are some great opportunities for Democrats in both chambers, particularly after 2018’s successful citizen-initiated ballot initiative (Amendment 4), whose passage means that more than a million formerly incarcerated people can now register to vote in Florida, offering an opportunity for Democrats to expand the electorate.

These are ‘last chance’ races: whoever is elected to the state legislature in 2020 will draw the next round of district lines. It is our last chance to build power in FL’s legislature ahead of redistricting, which has implications for the next entire decade.

WHY IS ARIZONA IMPORTANT?

To flip these chambers, Democrats need to win 3 Senate seats and 2 House seats. Momentum is on our side: in 2018, Democrats won a hotly contested federal Senate race and flipped 4 House seats, bringing the chamber to the closest partisan divide in decades. We can build on this energy to flip at least one chamber in 2020.

Flipping a chamber would break a stubborn Republican trifecta, keep Republicans from passing harmful and regressive legislation, and provide an opening for Democrats to advance their own progressive legislative agenda.

Originally posted on Sister District Project. Re-posted with permission.


DemCast is an advocacy-based 501(c)4 nonprofit. We have made the decision to build a media site free of outside influence. There are no ads. We do not get paid for clicks. If you appreciate our content, please consider a small monthly donation.


Gaby Goldstein is Co-Founder and Political Director at Sister District Project, and Director of Research at Sister District Action Network. Sister District’s mission is to build Democratic majorities in state legislatures, raise awareness about the importance of state legislatures, and facilitate progressive policy transfer between legislators and states.

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