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Gretchen's List: September 2022
I am sending this September email early because 1) money out the door this week is better than money out the door next week (after Labor Day); 2) I’ve gotten many questions in the past few weeks, and I wanted to make sure you have everything you need to feel informed during these last weeks of the cycle.
In this month’s dose of hope, have you ever seen anything as beautiful as this headline? I think we can hold the Senate, and I truly believe that — if we step it up — we have a narrow, fighting chance at the House. Our incumbents are smart, passionate, qualified, and ready to do the work; they will be hard to beat, so LFG. I am having an event this month for candidates in four must-win House races; please join me (and please feel extremely free to donate even if you cannot attend).
Here’s your TL;DR version for this letter:
If you’re giving under $1k, focus on state supreme court justices, state legislators, progressive prosecutors, and grassroots organizing. (Honestly, that state legislators slate is so good, and I hope everyone will look at it and admire the colossal amount of work that I put into making it look somewhat decent within the limited formatting option available on ActBlue, and then also send them money.)
If you’re giving between $1k and $5k, focus on Secretaries of State, Attorneys General, one specific governor’s race, and several key House races.
P.S. I didn’t even have to make this; the Internet is a good and wonderful place.
Where to Give Money Right Now
Where you should be giving money now, just over two months before the election, is very different than where I was telling you to give money a year ago. Much of where you give depends on how much you have to contribute, and where you want to focus.
If you’re giving anything under $1,000…
First, $1,000 is a massive amount of money, and the fact that you want to devote any resources to our democracy is important, and you should know that contributions of any size can be hugely impactful. A donation of $50 or $100 can really be very meaningful in many, many races. But if you’re giving at that level, don’t give it to federal or state governance candidates at this point in the cycle. Instead, try:
State legislative races. This slate has some of my favorites, including flippable seats, vulnerable incumbents, and true reproductive justice champions.
Movement Voter Project. MVP is a key grassroots organizing funding opportunity that allows donors of any level to channel money toward progressive power-building and community-based organizing. Browse their funds and choose one that’s aligned with your goals.
If you’re hoping to spend between $1,000 to $5,000, pick one or two of these races:
Governor Laura Kelly of Kansas. This is a great way to say “HEY THANKS FOR GIVING EVERYONE HOPE AND MOMENTUM, KANSAS!” The maximum you can give is $2,000.
Key Congressional races that still need money. Many of the toss-up races have plenty of money. Will they win? I don’t know! They are toss-up races! But if they don’t win, it’s not because they were lacking for funds. All the candidates I’ve included on this slate still need money.
If you’re looking to give $5,000 or more, it still makes sense to send to some Senate and Governor candidates, particularly…
Tina Kotek, in a toss-up race for governor of Oregon,
Katie Hobbs, in a toss-up race for governor of Arizona,
Michelle Lujan Grisham, in a close re-election as the governor of New Mexico,
Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent in the U.S. Senate,
Mandela Barnes, who is challenging Ron Johnson in the Senate race in Wisconsin.
Here’s the senate list, and here’s the state governance list. Choose just one or two races that you want to prioritize, and hit “customize amounts.” It’s better to send larger amounts to fewer campaigns than divide it among as many races as possible.
Friends! You have so many questions; I love it. I love getting your emails and knowing that I am not sending these missives into an empty void. Many of you have the same questions, though, so, if you’re comfortable, you should feel free to put them in the comments so that others can see them, too. (If you’re not comfortable with that, keep the emails coming! I’m happy to receive them.)
Should I give to candidates or grassroots organizing?
Give to candidates when:
You feel strongly about a particular candidate in a primary.
You want to help an incumbent elevate their position within the party through their leadership raising.
You want to build a relationship with a candidate to best advocate for the issues that are most important to you.
You believe that a particular race falls outside the focus or geographic radius of most organizing (e.g., a competitive Congressional race that isn’t in traditionally blue urban centers or suburbs, and is thus beyond the immediate reach of a lot of most well-funded mobilizing organizations).
You know that candidates get better ad-buy rates than other organizations/PACs and you want your money to go the furthest.
Give to organizing when:
You see a bunch of overlapping opportunities in one area that you want to elevate all at once (e.g. a state that has a competitive governor’s race and a flippable state legislature and key Congressional races all in the same cycle).
You don’t have time to research individual races.
You want to invest in something that is longer-term than a cycle-by-cycle race.
Should I give to candidates that are pretty clearly going to lose?
I got yelled at on Twitter last week for suggesting that a Democrat isn’t going to win a statewide Congressional race in Wyoming and that there were other races that need money and attention more. To be clear: I am correct. However, being correct is one of the least important things in American politics today. At the risk of just completely stepping in it once again, here are the conditions under which I think you could consider giving to very long-shot candidates:
They are running a campaign in a way that is exciting to and in partnership with grassroots organizers, and thus will help build a power base that will outlast a single election cycle. I did this in 2018 for a Congressional race in central Pennsylvania, where it was fairly clear the candidate wasn’t going to win, but she was getting people mobilized — and even if she lost (she did), that energy would sustain into 2020 and help with statewide races (it did; including the electoral college). See also: Stacey Abrams prior to 2018.
They are young and starting to build name recognition and you think they could have a long political trajectory and win in the future, and supporting them now will build that momentum.
You want to elevate under-represented candidates (women, people of color, LGBTQ+ candidates, indigenous candidates) even if they cannot win.
You don’t want any Republican incumbent to go unchallenged (like they often do in deep red states), so you want to support anyone willing to step up to the plate.
You have infinite money and want to fund everyone.
Here are reasons that I think you should not give to very long-shot candidates:
You think they will win if they have your money.
Remember: it is fine and good if you give to campaigns that lose. I want to give to many campaigns that lose, because otherwise I am giving to the wrong campaigns. Right now, I could tell you ten Congressional races that will win in November, and you could go give money to all of them and then have a 100% win rate and feel amaaaazing afterward. But those campaigns are going to win with or without your money. It’s up to you, really, how far down the long-shot list you want to go, and what you’re trying to accomplish by doing that (if it’s not, realistically, victory this cycle).
Why isn’t Val Demings on your Senate list?
Because I don’t think the polling is as strong as it should be to recommended spending money there, even though I think Val is the best statewide candidate available in Florida and I am rooting for her. Also, she has tons of money already (including mine). I did add her to my slate because so many of you asked, but I continue to think there are other races where your money will go further.
Sunday, September 11, 6pm in San Francisco. I am so excited to host this group of candidates — they are truly some of my favorites, and I can’t wait for you to meet them. Please join me for an outdoor evening reception with four amazing women, all crucial to holding as many Democratic seats in the House as is possible:
Congresswoman Susan Wild (PA-07) is an attorney, mother, and one of my favorite legislators from my home state of Pennsylvania, who is running for re-election in the one of the swing state’s most competitive districts;
Congresswoman Sharice Davids (KS-03) is an attorney, mixed martial artist, gay woman, member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, and one of only two Native American women ever elected to Congress;
Congresswoman Kim Schrier (WA-08) is a pediatrician, mother, and Emerge Washington alumna, who was motivated to serve when she felt her patients weren’t being well-served by their former elected officials; and,
Dr. Yadira Caraveo (CO-08) is a pediatrician and state legislator in Colorado running for a newly redistricted congressional seat (currently rated D+1.2).
Please RSVP and contribute here, and please let me know if you’d like to cohost or help spread the word.
Tuesday, September 13, 5pm in San Francisco. Join Electing Women Bay Area to support Cheri Beasley of North Carolina. Cheri is a former North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice, running for the open Senate seat and within just a few points of the Republican candidate. This race is our best chance to send a Black woman to the United States Senate this cycle. (There are currently none.) This event will be outside. Please RSVP here.
Wednesday, September 21, 2pm PT/5pm ET for a virtual event. This Electing Women Alliance event will support all six non-incumbent women who are running for governor this cycle: Stacey Abrams (Georgia), Deidre DeJear (Iowa), Maura Healey (Massachusetts), Katie Hobbs (Arizona), Tina Kotek (Oregon), and Nan Whaley (Ohio). For those counting: six candidates, five chances to take back a Republican-held seat, three toss-up races, two lesbians, two Black women, one Attorney General who took on the Sacklers, one Secretary of State who took on the fraudits, one minority leader who flipped a state, one mayor, one Speaker of the House, one romance novelist, and one professional basketball player all on one Zoom call. Please RSVP and contribute here. (Given the varying competitiveness and costliness of these races, you are welcome to customize your contributions as you see fit.)
Friday, September 23, 12pm in San Francisco. Please join me and Electing Women Bay Area for outdoor lunch with Senator Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada. As I described last month, I believe this is a prime race for investing, and this trip will be Catherine’s last event in San Francisco this cycle. Please join us.
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.
Currently reading: Electable: Why America Hasn’t Put a Woman in The White House… Yet by Ali Vitali.
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