Gretchen's List: June 2020

Dear Friends,

Do you ever wonder if the alternate universe where Hillary won is the same as the universe without a pandemic at all? Or do you think that they do have the pandemic, but it's just going better because they have a competent federal government? (Yes, I'm reading Rodham right now, why do you ask?)

Anyway, while our alternate selves are surely enjoying some halcyon existence with fewer Zoom calls and more hugs, I guess we've just got to get to work on this one.

June Question: Why do you give to candidates who are more moderate than you?

I generally prefer to give to progressive candidates, but the biggest part of the answer is: because Democrats as liberal as me can't get elected everywhere, and I believe majorities matter. (I do draw the line somewhere above Joe Manchin, though, and I look forward to the day when we have enough of a Democratic majority in the Senate that I can dump a whole bunch of money towards his primary opponent.) I have to recognize that I am a donor in San Francisco, and not a voter in rural Kentucky or suburban Virginia; very few of the candidates to whom I give are tasked with representing me. But there are issues that can't wait (climate change, the American judiciary) for the pendulum to self-correct, and a moderate Democrat who reliably votes with the caucus is better than a moderate Republican who reliably doesn't. I am constantly asking myself: is this the right Democrat for this race? Sometimes the moderate is the right Democrat. For example, California should have a more progressive senator than Dianne Feinstein, because California can elect a more progressive senator. (See you in four years, Katie Porter! I am going to will this into happening.) But Amy McGrath might be the right senator for Kentucky.

If I'm talking to a candidate who I know is more moderate than I am, I look for one important thing: will they have political courage when it's required? For example, Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger is one of my favorite candidates, but I know that in her very purple Virginian swing district, she might not always vote as I'd hope. But I also know she's smart, service-oriented, and serious about her obligation to our Constitution. And when it came time to hold President Trump accountable for his impeachable offenses, Abigail did so, publicly, even though it was a political risk. Similarly, when I had a conversation with senate candidate Amy McGrath, I was generally lukewarm on her, until she said that she would chose to be a one-term senator if she could make campaign finance reform happen. She would be willing to risk her senate seat to make a systemic change in our national politics. If we had more elected officials willing to take electoral risks for the sake of what's right, we'd be in a much better position as a country. For moderate candidates, I look carefully at the issues on which they are willing to lead and take risks. It's almost always something important enough to help get them elected.

Where to Send Money Right Now: Teresa Leger Fernandez for Congress and Amanda Cappelletti for Pennsylvania Senate

If you're not sold on supporting moderate Democrats, the best thing to do is get candidates you do love out of primaries and into the general. Both of these races are happening on June 2nd, so send them money right now to help them keep their ads up and do the needed get-out-the-vote work over the next week.

I have been been very proud to support Teresa Leger Fernandez for Congress (NM-03). Teresa is a native New Mexican and a woman of color; a graduate of Head Start, Yale, and Stanford; an attorney who has fought for Native tribes, voting rights, public education, affordable housing, and the environment; a breast cancer survivor and mother of three. Teresa received the enthusiastic endorsement of Congresswoman Deb Haaland and (in a crowded primary of seven candidates) she won over 40% of the vote at the March convention (more than twice her next closest opponent). However, the primary is now extremely close as a better-funded opponent (who won only 5% of the convention vote) is outspending her on TV. This race lacks many of the aspects that generally draw donors to races: it's not Red to Blue; it is and will stay a Democratic seat regardless of who wins the primary. But Teresa has the opportunity to be a true progressive champion in Congress, and her winning would mean that New Mexico's entire congressional delegation would be women of color. Help her campaign get across the finish line.

Also! Here's a fun article titled "The Senator Says He's Not a Rapist" and here's a link to give to Amanda Cappelletti, his primary challenger for the Pennsylvania Senate. Amanda's CV speaks for itself: she has an MPH and has worked for the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and the Department of Human Services. She's going to be a fantastic senator. Remember: your donations go far in a state legislative race; $50 can make a big difference in replacing this serial #MeToo politician with a progressive woman who will make a difference in Harrisburg.

June Virtual Events

June 1, 5pm PT: Senate Primer with Alexandra Acker-Lyons of Electing Women Bay Area. This is a great free event to learn more about the Senate races this cycle, from one of the best political advisors I know. Al is smart, savvy, and strategic, and will tell you everything you need to know about what's happening with the Senate. RSVP here.

June 4, 6pm PT: An evening with Dr. Hiral Tipirneni for Congress (AZ-06) with former Secretary of Health and Human Services Congresswoman Donna Shalala. A former emergency room doctor, Hiral came extremely close to flipping a House seat in 2018; the race looks even better for her this time. As a physician, immigrant American, and mother of three, Hiral is well-positioned to advance issues related to healthcare, immigration and border security, education, and reproductive health. The first time I met Hiral, I showed up at The Mill with a four-week old baby strapped to my chest (.... remember when we used to go places?) and she was so gracious in walking my fuzzy postpartum brain through her race and everything happening in Arizona. It was clear that she has the expertise, patience, and ability to connect that make for a good candidate and a wonderful Congresswoman. I’m really excited about this race, and I hope you can join us to see why. Please contribute and register here.

June 17, 4pm PT: A conversation with Al Gross for Alaska. This is another under-the-radar Senate race that is slowly getting more attention. Al is an orthopedic surgeon, commercial fisherman, and Amherst alum turned senate candidate. He’s running as an independent, but has a clear liberal platform and plans to caucus with the Democrats (and he was endorsed by the DSCC). His race ratings just got more competitive, and his polling is very close (and getting closer). Sometimes it turns out that the right Democrat to win a state isn’t quite a Democrat, and that seems to be the case in Alaska. (This fundraiser will be primarily focused on the Amherst alumni community, but you’re welcome to join unless you went to Williams.) RSVP here.

June 18, 4pm PT: Come meet Nicole Galloway for Governor of Missouri. There's nothing like a good pandemic to really highlight how essential competent governors can be. Nicole Galloway is the 37-year-old state auditor in Missouri. She's a bit of a long shot, but a compelling one (check out this campaign ad). I haven't had a chance to speak with Nicole yet; join this Electing Women Bay Area event with me to learn more about the race. RSVP here.

June 20something; still pinning down a date: A evening in support of Governor Roy Cooper of North Carolina. Governor Cooper has been a true exemplar for what Democratic governors can accomplish in purple states, pushing hard on socially progressive issues: severely curtailing his predecessor's "bathroom bill," vetoing the "Born Alive" bill, banning conversion therapy. But what most impressed me when I met Roy was his absolute commitment to helping win the North Carolina legislature. He spent two years traveling across the state to ensure there was a Democratic running for every state House and Senate race, so that no Republican ran uncontested. He also leveraged his fundraising power to raise money for these candidates, and was able to break the Republican's supermajority in the legislature. Now both chambers can potentially be flipped this cycle! (Let me tell you what this means: North Carolina is approximately half Democrats and half Republicans. However, due to extreme gerrymandering, its Congressional delegation is ten Republicans and only three Democrats. Flipping the state legislative chambers will ensure fairer redistricting and support future efforts to maintain a Democratic majority in the US House.) I was so impressed with Roy's commitment to supporting Democrats across North Carolina that I agreed to host this event. I think you'll be impressed, too. We are currently finalizing details on this event, but here's the link to give, which will be updated with details closer to the event. Please email me if you want to be kept in the loop on this event!

Emerge #LeadersMatter Salon Series. Emerge's annual fundraiser was canceled this year, so I hope you'll be able to join some of these truly excellent virtual events. The salon series is open for Emerge Leadership Circle members, but I am able to bring a (free!) guest to each one (just email me if you'd like to join).
June 4, 2pm PT: "A Conversation on Women in Politics” with Supermajority Co-Founder Cecile Richards and Emerge President A’shanti Gholar. Register here.

June 16, 1:30pm PT: “That woman from MichiganGovernor Gretchen Whitmer will be joining us to discuss governing through a pandemic, a 500-year-flood, an armed protest, and (un)presidential taunting on Twitter. You can’t even register for this one yet! Just save the date and let me know if you’re interested.

Future events in the works include "When Home Is Not Safe" with Suffolk Country District Attorney Rachael Rollins (on domestic violence and sheltering in place). All upcoming events are listed here.
I hope you all are feeling healthy and hopeful. Please don't hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or suggestions!

My best,
Gretchen

P.S. If you need something to feel excited about, read about Shemia Fagan's nail-biting primary victory in the Oregon Secretary of State race.


Donor, sociologist, obsessive researcher. Board member at WDN Action and Emerge America, and steering committee member at Electing Women Bay Area -- but all content here is mine alone and not on behalf of any organization. My goals are to help others find their networks and feel more comfortable and informed participating in the political giving space.