Gretchen's List: November 2023
Most of this newsletter will be about Florida, for which I must apologize in advance. Florida is probably one of my least favorite topics in American politics (especially now that I can’t even quote HBO’s Recount without feeling guilty about post-#MeToo Kevin Spacey). But Florida is the second-largest abortion provider in the nation, and preventing a six-week abortion ban in Florida is critical to maintaining access throughout the South. Luckily, abortion is a winning issue — which means not only that we can protect access, but that we can leverage voters to win other races.
But before we get to that: I have been judicious with (read: kind of slacking on) my newsletters this year because I know that most readers aren’t ready for a deep dive into political giving in odd years. I’d love your thoughts on what you’re most interested in: keeping the Senate? (Bad news there, but read on.) Regaining the House? (Better!) Governors? Local races? Rising stars to invest in early (literally my favorite thing)? I think many of you were reading here during the Trump years out of a desire to move money based on something other than anger, fear, and anxiety, and I am grateful for that. What are you looking for as we gear up for 2024 and beyond? Let me know how I can best help — either in the comments or via email. I look forward to hearing from you!
P.S. If I were to write a list of Women Most Likely to Be a US Senator in a Soon-ish but Not Current Cycle (and — to be clear — I have written this list before, and basically always am), near the top of the list would be Delaware state senator Sarah McBride. An accomplished state legislator, Sarah is currently running to be Delaware’s sole member of Congress. I consider her a real rising star, and am excited to help elect her to be the first trans woman in Congress. If you’re in San Francisco, come meet her next Monday evening. Details below.
Where to Send Money Right Now: Ugh, Florida.
I am not a generally politically optimistic person. I’m not, like, getting my hopes up about Florida. I supported Val Demmings last cycle because she was an excellent candidate and because wearing my “Val Demmings for U.S. Senate” in DisneyWorld got me an extra FastPass for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, not because it seemed possibly to truly oust Marco Rubio. Given all that, I’m still going to say it: I think we should be investing money in Florida right now.
Part 1: Floridians Protecting Freedom
Ok, so we all know now (after Kansas and Kentucky and Vermont and California and Ohio and definitely not before) that abortion is a winning issue. Who knew? (Me.) In November 2024, it will be Florida’s turn.
Passing a ballot initiative in Florida is a pain in the ass.
To qualify for the ballot in November, the campaign needs to submit 891,523 validated petitions by February 1, 2024.
The campaign needs to pay to collect petitions, and pay local election officials to validate them. This outlay is significant.
Once it’s on the ballot, an initiative has to secure 60% of the vote to pass.
Fortunately, winning is the easy part. Every time they are polled, Floridians are massively in favor of protecting abortion access. Also fortunately, donors are super excited about ballot measures right now; by next summer Florida will be swamped (pun intended) with money for getting messaging and voters out.
But that’s next summer, and Floridians Protecting Freedom needs money right now to ensure they are on the ballot. This money goes to collecting and validating petitions by the February 1st deadline. When I first got an update from FPF in the spring, I was pretty skeptical on their ability to deliver, given the high (and expensive) threshold in Florida. I am now much more optimistic — they have an excellent team, and they’re going to get this done… as long as they have the resources to do. But it can’t wait until everyone is paying attention next summer. I encourage you to give here before the end of the calendar year.
Part 2: Debbie Mucarsel-Powell for U.S. Senate
Given that abortion will most likely be on the ballot in Florida next November, I think it puts their senate race in play. With Joe Manchin’s retirement this race is our best chance of picking up any Democratic senate seats, and our only chance of holding a majority. Rick Scott won this seat in 2018 with only 50.05% of the vote, and I think with the ballot initiative, former Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell has the chance of unseating him. In one poll of Florida voters who had heard both positive and negative messages about both candidates, Debbie led Rick Scott 44% to 43%. But getting those messages out is expensive — it’s worth chipping in to her campaign now. Is this a longer shot? Yes. But I do think it’s one we need to take. I am hosting Debbie tomorrow, November 29th. If you’d like to come meet her, please RSVP here. (You can also use that link to give, even if you can’t attend!)
TOMORROW! Former congresswoman and current Florida senate candidate Debbie Mucarsel-Powell will be joining me for an Electing Women Bay Area lunch on November 29th and 12pm. Details above. :) RSVP here to join us.
On December 4th at 5pm, I am hosting a reception for Sarah McBride, a state senator in Delaware who is running to be the first trans woman in Congress. This event will be at Manny’s in the Mission. I have been glad to get to know Sarah a bit over the last year. She’s been an incredibly effective legislator in Delaware, advancing progressive causes and providing a critical voice for this moment. I am sure she will be a champion in Washington, and an important figure for our reflective democracy. I hope you’ll come meet here. RSVP here.
Donor, sociologist, researcher. Board member at WDN Action and Emerge America, steering committee member at Electing Women Bay Area, and cofounder of the Abortion Bridge Collaborative Fund -- 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.
Currently reading: Live to See the Day: Coming of Age in American Poverty by Nikhil Goyal.
Preorder my book! Relinquished: The Politics of Adoption and the Privilege of American Motherhood, coming out February 27, 2024.
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