Gretchen's List: March 2020

Dear Friends,

Thank you so much for subscribing to this new project of mine! I plan to use this newsletter as a vehicle for sharing upcoming events, as well as answering questions that I am often asked: If I have $50, what race should I send it to? What candidates are you most excited about? Do you know any good races in [insert home state]? I am not in any way a professional political strategist, but I am an active donor (both to candidates and to organizations that build Democratic and progressive organizing) and I put a lot of research into figuring out which candidates to support, what strategies make the most sense for a given electoral cycle, and what kind of democracy I want to help build.

I know political giving can feel confusing, but I hope my obsessive research can help it feel more manageable for friends (and friends of friends) who want to find a way to participate at this current moment. I tend to focus more on federal and gubernatorial races, rather than local; I give primarily to women and people of color; my core issues are reproductive, racial, and climate justice. Please take my suggestions with that in mind, and adjust to suit your priority focus and issues. Here we go!

March Question: Where are you focusing for 2020?

The Senate.* (Also the White House, yes, of course, but for now: the Senate. Whether or not we win the White House, we will need the Senate to either get anything accomplished, or to defend the country against actual treason.)

Can we actually win the Senate? Yes. We need to net three seats if we win the (Vice) Presidency, and four if we don't. Let's assume that Doug Jones might lose in Alabama -- not because he certainly will, but because it will be harder for him to defend his seat than it will be for others to flip. (The only other slightly vulnerable Democratic Senator is Gary Peters in Michigan, and he currently looks ok.) So, let's say we need to flip five seats to ensure that we have a majority. Here's where they could come from (roughly in order of likelihood, subject to endless, minimally-useful debate):

  1. Arizona (Mark Kelly)

  2. Colorado (John Hickenlooper)

  3. Maine (Sara Gideon)

  4. North Carolina (Cal Cunningham)

  5. Iowa (Theresa Greenfield)

  6. Georgia A (Raphael Warnock)

  7. Kansas (Barbara Bollier)

  8. Kentucky (Amy McGrath)

  9. Montana (Cora Neumann)

  10. Texas (TBD)

  11. Georgia B (TBD)

  12. South Carolina (Jamie Harrison)

We won't win all these seats. But we can, with the right investment, win five. I put in bold the ones I am focusing on giving to the most. (Mark Kelly, John Hickenlooper, and Amy McGrath are all very well-funded at the moment; outside of that, I focused on women and candidates of color that I felt had the best chances.) I'd suggest picking one or two races, depending on your capacity, interest, or connections to any of these states. Maine and North Carolina will be very expensive races -- if you can give over $500, give there. If you can give less and want to feel like it's going far, I'd send it to Kansas (more on this mostly under-the-radar race below) or Montana.

*I know other donors who are very focused in 2020 on gubernatorial and state legislature races in states where these offices have determinative power in redistricting. I'm starting to examine that more, and found this article very helpful for shaping my thinking.

Race to Watch: Barbara Bollier for Kansas (United States Senate)

I am talking to absolutely everyone this month about Barbara Bollier for the United States Senate. Barbara is a physician and member of the Kansas Senate. She was a moderate Republican for most of her career, but has always been pro-choice and strong on issues related to Medicaid expansion and investment in public schools. She campaigned with Kansas's new Democratic Governor Laura Kelly in 2018, and ultimately left the Republican Party over its inclusion of anti-transgender language in its platform. She has the endorsements of EMILY's List and former Kansas Democratic Governor/Obama Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.

Barbara's opponent is most likely to be Kris Kobach, perpetuator of myths about voter fraud, Trumpian wingman, and all around terrible person. Kris just lost statewide in 2018; he is beatable. And Barbara is the right pragmatic Democrat to beat him. While money is flooding into the Big Five Senate races (AZ, CO, NC, ME, IA), we have a real chance to grab a seat in Kansas. Chip in to Barbara's race (or any of the other women running for Senate that I'm supporting!) here.

Movement Building: GALvanize USA

Donald Trump won white women in 2016: galling, but true. And while a lot of my giving focuses on shifting power to communities of color, I also believe that it's my obligation, as a white woman, to account for and move this voting bloc in a more progressive direction. I know the future of our democracy is in a more diverse and expanded electorate, but right now white women represent 42% of all voters nationwide. GALvanize USA is working across the country to increase women's political knowledge and agency, and ensure that white women will vote for the Democratic nominee next November. They have both a 501(c)3 organization (which does their research and education) and a 501(c)4 (which does advocacy work); both could use your support! But, if you can't give financially, GALvanize is also looking for a few good women to volunteer to help moderate their Facebook group a couple of hours a week. Ideal moderators are grounded, social work-types who are skillful in constructive dialogue (... which is why I am a GALvanize donor and not a volunteer moderator). Let me know if you're interested and I'll connect you with someone on Team GALvanize!

March Events in San Francisco

February 29: Congressman Josh Harder (CA-10). Josh flipped California's 10th District in 2018 by a narrow margin, and needs our support to keep the seat this cycle. This is San Francisco's closest vulnerable district. Join a reception in the Castro in support of his re-election.

March 1: Off the Sidelines reception with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Congresswoman Lucy McBath (GA-06), and Congresswoman Kim Schrier (WA-08). These are three of my favorite women in elected office right now. Lucy (who lost her own son to gun violence) is battling with NRA for her reelection; Kim is fighting to stay as the only pediatrician (or woman physician) in Congress. They are all incredible and inspiring. Join us for dinner in San Francisco.

March 3: Democratic Primary in California. I plan to vote for Senator Elizabeth Warren, and I hope you will join me. Please give to her campaign to your capacity. (And don't count Elizabeth out! She is currently polling second nationwide, with the vast majority of delegates are still up for grabs.)

March 13: Electing Women Bay Area reception with Theresa Greenfield for Senate (IA), Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer (IA-01), Congresswoman Cindy Axne (IA-03), and Rita Hart for Congress (IA-02). Join EWBA (my favorite group for giving to candidates!) as we host this contingent of Iowa women. Theresa is one of our best chances for flipping a US Senate seat; Abby and Cindy are outstanding new congresswomen who need support to defend their seats; Rita would ensure an all-woman Iowa congressional delegation. Join a reception with all four candidates. (Please let me know if you'd like to contribute to and attend this EWBA event.)

March 15: Senator Doug Jones (AL). Doug is the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent in the United States Senate. His opponent will probably be Jeff Sessions, one of the worst humans. Join a reception in Noe Valley in support of his re-election.

March 20: Foreign Policy Action Network with Congressman Tom Malinkowski (NJ-07) and Congressman Andy Kim (NJ-03). Both freshman congressman are veterans of the Obama administration (Tom was Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, and Andy served in the State Department and in the US National Security Council), and both were part of New Jersey's Blue Wave in 2018. Join us for an evening reception in San Francisco.

March 22: Cal Cunningham for Senate (NC) and Jaime Harrison for Senate (SC). Join us us for lunch with these two candidates; two of our key opportunities for winning the Senate.

March 25: Dan Feehan for Congress (MN-01). Dan ran for this seat in 2018 and lost by 0.4% of the vote, in a district Trump won by 14 points. He served in Iraq, taught public school in Chicago, graduated from Georgetown and Harvard Kennedy School, and served as a White House Fellow and Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Obama Administration. He is a father of three (his wife gave birth to their daughter the same week that Aurelia was born!) and the nicest candidate you'll ever meet. He can win this time, but he will need support. Join us for an evening reception in the Mission.
I hope to see you at some of these gatherings! If you have any questions, feel free to send them my way. Please also feel free to share with friends if you think this might be helpful to them; they can subscribe here.


P.S. Save the Date for the Emerge Now luncheon on May 12! Emerge has been the most hopeful, exciting work that I've been involved with since the 2016 election. Our 2020 luncheon will feature Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Virginia Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy, and other alumnae from across the country. It's an inspiring afternoon, and I'd love to have you join. (If you'd like to join the host committee and organize your own table, let me know!)

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.