Gretchen's List: August 2020

Dear Friends,

Less than 100 days to go! We are really, truly in the final sprint. And, to be honest, things are looking good. Biden’s numbers look solid in the states that matter. The Senate races look very promising. The House races are moving along well while we spend more time dealing with the two higher-maintenance branches at the moment (… spoken as a mother of three). BUT ABSOLUTELY NONE OF THIS MATTERS BECAUSE HERE IS A WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE FROM AUGUST 2016.

(And they weren’t the only ones — Clinton was polling up to 14 points ahead at this point in 2016.)

All of this is winnable. Our democracy is currently salvageable. But we cannot, for a moment, take anything for granted.

August Question: Can we just talk more about the Senate?

Sure, it’s not like I’m thinking about anything else anyway. I did a Senate overview in March, but a lot has changed since then, so let’s have an update. Right now, Democrats are favored to take back the Senate. But 1) we aren’t taking anything for granted; 2) we have a tough map in 2022, and we need to run up the score so we can win and keep a majority for the next Presidential term (regardless of the winner). I really hope you’ll find a race that you’re excited to invest in.

To flip the Senate, we need to win three seats, or four if we lose the White House, or five if we lose the White House and one incumbent. We’re aiming for at least five, just to be safe; again, running up the score is good this cycle. In total, there are thirty-five Senate races this cycle, but most are non-competitive states. (I did write last month about Senate races in Idaho and West Virginia, and why or when it might make sense to support a long-shot candidate, but if we’re looking at how to secure a Democratic majority, these aren’t a huge factor.) So, where are these three seats going to come from? And where should you send money? Here’s my updated list of competitive races, roughly in order of flippability:

  1. John Hickenlooper (CO)

  2. Mark Kelly (AZ)

  3. Steve Bullock (MT)

  4. Sara Gideon (ME)

  5. Theresa Greenfield (IA)

  6. Cal Cunningham (NC)

  7. Barbara Bollier (KS)

  8. Jon Ossoff (GA)

  9. Raphael Warnock (GA)

  10. Al Gross (AK)

  11. Amy McGrath (KY)

  12. Jamie Harrison (SC)

  13. MJ Hegar (TX)

  14. Adrian Perkins (LA)

To help you figure out where to give money, I will now divide these competitive races into several buckets (which fellow political nerds will debate, but whatever, this is my list).

  • The ones that will probably win and don’t need your money. John Hickenlooper (Colorado) and Mark Kelly (Arizona) are both up around 10 points in polls, and they have a ton of money. I would also probably put Steve Bullock (Montana) here (although he entered the race late, and doesn’t have quite as commanding of a lead as the other two). These guys will probably win, and if they don’t, it won’t be because they didn’t have enough money.

  • The ones that are expensive toss-ups. These races could truly go either way, and everyone — donors, committees, PACs — is putting money into them. These races are: Theresa Greenfield (Iowa), Sara Gideon (Maine), and Cal Cunningham (North Carolina).

  • The ones that are leaning red, but very winnable. These are races in states that skew red, but the Democrat candidates are excellent and within striking distance: Barbara Bollier (Kansas), Al Gross (Alaska), Raphael Warnock (Georgia-B), Jon Ossoff (Georgia-A), and our most vulnerable incumbent, Doug Jones (Alabama). (Also note that Warnock’s race is weird. It’s a “jungle primary” so the November election is to choose two candidates to advance to a run-off. It’s important to get Warnock to the top of the ballot to avoid have a two Republican run-off. This is unlikely, but again… not taking anything for granted.) This bucket is where I like to invest — these races tend to get overlooked, and money can really help move the needle.

  • The ones that are longer-shots and well-funded. Amy McGrath (Kentucky) and Jamie Harrison (South Carolina) remain long-shots, but because they are both charismatic candidates and strong fundraisers running against terrible people, they have a good amount of money on hand.

  • The ones that are longer-shots and need money. MJ Hegar’s (Texas) race is at least as winnable at McGrath’s and Harrison’s, especially with Biden up a few points in Texas (!!!). However, she’s not having as much fundraising success and Texas voters don’t know her well (and getting them to know her more is expensive in a state like Texas). And then there’s Adrian Perkins (Louisiana), the 35-year-old Mayor of Shreveport, who just jumped into a viable race last week and needs funds quickly to ensure he’s running at full speed by November.

  • The ones that are incumbents that are probably fine, but keep an eye on them. These are Gary Peters (Michigan) and Jeanne Shaheen (New Hampshire). Both of these incumbents should be fine, but really anything can happen in Michigan and the last New Hampshire Senate race was decided by 700 votes.

If you have a lot of money to spend on races this cycle, I’d look at Greenfield (Iowa) and Gideon (Maine). If you want to feel like your money is really going far, I’d send it to Bollier (Kansas), Gross (Alaska), and Warnock (Georgia). And if you want to want to take a gamble to expand the map, I’d send it to Hegar (Texas) and Perkins (Louisiana). (You can give to any of the women I’m supporting here — all of the Senate candidates are right on top.) But take the above thoughts and use them to help figure out what’s most important to you. And please let me know if I can help.

Where to Send Money Right Now: Nicole Galloway for Governor of Missouri

There’s only one woman running for governor in 2020, which, given how important Democratic governors have become in the past few months and how exemplary Democratic women governors have been in particular (see: Michigan, Rhode Island) seems like enough of a reason to support her. But Nicole Galloway has turned the race for Governor of Missouri into a more competitive one than anyone could have predicted. She’s 38 years old, recently won the statewide race for auditor, and is extremely nerdy and capable. And she’s destroying the incumbent in her ads, on issues ranging from campaign finance to healthcare to COVID. You can contribute to her campaign here.

Women in White: The 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment

This month marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment. A century later, a clear-eyed view of history cannot deny both the courage and the racism of white American suffragists, many of whom came to activism as staunch abolitionists but, through compromise and dismissal, quickly abandoned ideals of true equality to more expediently ensure their own rights. They tirelessly lectured and lobbied, held (segregated) parades and silent vigils, engaged in civil disobedience and hunger strikes, and endured arrest and abuse. They resented Black men being enfranchised before they were, abandoned cross-racial coalition to bring white Southerners into their cause, and sidelined leaders like Ida B. Wells, Mary Church Terrell, Mary McLeod Bethune, and so many others. Suffragists’ legacy is frustrating and fraught, and one with which I have long struggled. Yet, while watching the 2019 State of the Union, I found it very powerful and moving to see the women of the 116th Congress — the most diverse Congress in our country’s history — reclaiming and reembodying that legacy of white(-clad) American suffragists. The speech aside (and please, let’s leave it aside), the images from that night are the testament to the power of reflective democracy and for the ongoing need change how we think about our past champions, and to give us new ones. I believe electing these women is the best way to both honor the legacy of the suffragists, to consider it with a critical historical eye, and to move our country, and our coalitions, well beyond it.

August Events

August Something: We’re hosting Joe Biden’s running mate! Who is it? We don’t know! When is the event? We’re not quite sure! (In true political fashion, those who know aren’t saying anything, and those who are saying something don’t know. But I’d guess Kamala Harris at this point, with Susan Rice as a long shot because she’s all of the sudden showing up at a lot of events for Senate candidates). Here’s the bottom line: Electing Women Bay Area will be hosting one of the first events with our Vice Presidential nominee within days of her candidacy being announced. If you want to be kept in the loop on this opportunity to hear directly from our first woman VP as soon as she jumps in the ring, indicate your interest here and I’ll email you a full invite when details are finalized.

August 13th, Time TBD: Join me for Black Women Challengers: Red to Blue, with four impressive Congressional candidates: Joyce Elliott (AR-02), Jackie Gordon (NY-2), Desiree Tims (OH-10), and Pat Timmons-Goodson (NC-08). Black women have always been the core of the Democratic party; it’s time to make sure we’re following their lead. I actually have not heard any of these women speak yet; please come meet them with me! If you’d like to join this event, indicate your interest here and I’ll email you a full invite when details are finalized.

August 27th, 3pm PT: Join Women for Barbara Bollier (candidate for US Senate from Kansas) with special guest Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Barbara has long been one of my favorite candidates for Senate: principled, thoughtful, diplomatic, and driven by a desire to serve. I am so pleased to have the chance to host her again. As I mentioned above, this is a key race to winning back the Senate and a great state to fund before November. RSVP and contribute here.

Here’s to the next 99 days.

My best,

Donor, sociologist, 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 or business. My goals are to help others find their networks and feel more comfortable and informed participating in the political giving space.

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