Gretchen's List: January 2021

Dear Friends,

I can hardly believe it’s been less than a week since our victories in Georgia, wins that were as decisive as they were astonishing and game-changing. And then, to have our joy in that moment robbed by violent insurrectionists, to feel the foundations of our democracy threatened, to experience the tremendous anxiety and emotional toll as we hope for swift, definitive action, to see so blatantly the white supremacy at the root of our country’s rot: our country is reaping exactly what President Trump has sown, and it will take a long time and a lot of very hard work to bring us to a place of progress and hope.

I hope that you all are taking care of yourselves, and that, if you are in a place where you feel ready to look ahead and invest in future leaders, you will join me in conversations this month with Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold and Virginia gubernatorial candidate Jennifer Carroll Foy (details for both below). Both of these women are Emerge America alumnae and rising stars in their states; they represent the best of our country and the leaders we can aspire to deserve and work to elect.

Bigger picture, I believe that the best investments for 2021 will be in protecting our representative democracy, and I’ll be looking closely at the best efforts around DC statehood, court expansion, campaign finance reform, voting and elections protections, and more. I am also planning to research the organizations that are doing the best work towards expanding the success of Georgia to North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Louisiana, and even Mississippi and Alabama. More to come!

In the meantime, I believe that the best way of working for future political wins is governing well. Please hold your representatives accountable. We all worked hard to elect and hold a House majority, secure the narrowest of Senate majorities, and win the Presidency. We need this government to work for the people. I encourage you to read this article from Rebecca Traister, “The Only Strategy Left for Democrats”:

This has long been the dangerous death rattle of a power system that would rather rip the nation apart — would rather violently storm its Capitol, villainize, and destroy its very operatives — than distribute its power more equitably.

It is also the starkest possible evidence that Democrats must steer straight toward the kinds of mechanisms that are this calamity’s direct and robust inverse: toward strengthening and empowering a populace, toward a governance that prioritizes dignity and care and safety and security for everyone, not just the already powerful. That means money, and a speedy, determined reknitting of a social safety net that has been maliciously unraveled over decades.

Which necessarily means governing like you are trying to save not just your own jobs but your nation and its people: from a coup, from a contagion, from the daily perils that have engulfed them for too long and from which our government has done too little to protect them.

Part of why so little has been offered to those who have needed it is that the Democratic Party, which is purportedly (if sometimes implausibly) supposed to represent the vulnerable, has approached politics and power with fear, not assuredness or moral authority.

As always, I really want this newsletter to be helpful to you, and I truly welcome questions, feedback, thoughts on or questions about races that you’re watching, or suggestions of organizations or that are exciting to you. Please feel free to reach out to me via email, or ask questions in the comments.

My best,


P.S. Californians! Today (January 11) is the last day to request your ballot to vote in the Assembly Delegates election for the Democratic Party. Request your ballot here. It takes five seconds. Let me know if you need help figuring how who to support!

January Question: Where do we give to get the seditionists out of office?

I love that people are asking this question, immediately and frequently. But for right now, my answer is that it’s too soon to know.

Both Senators/traitors Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz clearly have Presidential aspirations, but they both also have Senate terms that are up in 2024. It is tricky to run for President and the Senate at the same time (though Joe Lieberman did it in 2000, holding onto his Senate seat even though he was Al Gore’s running mate). I think we have to see how this plays out in the next two years: what the Republican field looks like for 2024, what their intentions are for their Senate seats, whether Beto will run again, if there’s a strong Democratic contender in Missouri (my pick is Nicole Galloway). Most of the other Senators who voted to uphold Hawley’s and Cruz’s objections (Cynthia Loomis of Wyoming, Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi, Roger Marshall of Kansas, Tommy Tuberville of Alabama) were just elected this November, and are not on the ballot for another six years — it is, of course, far to early to know what those races will look like; Rick Scott of Florida isn’t up until 2024 either, and that is still too far in the future to know what will happen. The only Senator up in 2022 who objected to the election results is Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana, and he’ll be a tough one to take out. But I am keeping an eye on any opportunities there.

As far as the House of Representatives? Well, here’s the list for you to pore over. Some of them will be vulnerable as individuals in 2022, but right now, the Democratic majority in the House is extremely vulnerable and protecting the majority should be a priority. Again, though, I think it’s really too soon to give money here; we still have to get through redistricting, which will determine which seats are most flippable on both sides.

For right now, my recommendation is to hold on to both your money and the impulse to want to spend and work for these seats. As I mentioned above, the best investment for the next few months will be funding political infrastructure, particularly in expanding the successes in Georgia to the rest of the South, and in protecting and restoring our democracy.

(Another) January Question: What do you think of John Fetterman?

As a native Pennsylvanian, I am very focused on the open US Senate seat in Pennsylvania. With Senator Pat Toomey second only to Rick Santorum on the list of “Worst Senators from Pennsylvania,” I am glad he’s out of the way, and I think Democrats have a real shot at this seat even in a challenging mid-term election. There are several strong Democratic contenders, and it’s not clear who the heir apparent to the nomination on the Republican side will be.

Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman is certainly running. This guy is hilarious. He is down-to-earth, relatable, progressive and his wife endearingly refers to herself as “SLOP” (“Second Lady of Pennsylvania”). He also really wants to be a Senator; he ran in 2016, and fell short of the nomination. If Fetterman is the nominee, I will support him. But he is not my first — or second — choice for the nominee.

As I’ve written before, one of my primary goals — no matter where we are in an election cycle, no matter who is running for what office — is figuring out what background work needs to be happening to make it more likely for us to elect a Democratic woman as President. We do not get a Democratic woman President unless we can get Pennsylvania to vote for her. Pennsylvanias, who have never sent a woman to the US Senate or the Governor’s mansion, need to start getting used to the idea of voting for women to represent them. And I think that work continues in the 2022 Senate race, where there will be at least two very qualified women running. I have spoken with both of them, and am particularly excited about one. I look forward to sharing (a lot) more about this race later in the spring but for now, I am encouraging you to hold off on supporting Fetterman until this primary is in full swing.

January Events

January 26th, 4pm PT. Please join me for a conversation with Colorado’s Secretary of State, Jena Griswold. At 35 years old, Jena is one of the young statewide office holders in the country. In the past year, Colorado's system of all-mail-in ballots became of model for the nation, and Jena's deft ability to manage the election was an exemplar for other states. As the integrity of voting is increasingly under attack (both via legitimate threats that must be addressed, and imaginary ones that must be countered) having strong Secretaries of State is essential. Jena has a bright political future ahead of her, and is excited to connect with more Bay Area donors. Donations for the 4pm conversation start at $250; the 4:30pm meet and greet is open to anyone interested in meeting Jena without donating. Donate here, or just email to let me know if you’d like to attend.

January 27th, 5pm PT. Come meet the next Governor of Virginia, Jennifer Carroll Foy. Our country has never had a Black woman serve as Governor, and while we’re all rooting for Stacey Abrams to announce for 2022, we can make sure she’s in good company by electing Jennifer Carroll Foy in Virginia. Jennifer is fearless and boldly progressive, a former public defender, one of the first women to graduate from Virginia Military Institute. She won her House of Delegates primary by just twelve votes, and the next week gave birth to twins; after handedly winning the general election she proposed and worked to pass the Equal Rights Amendment and fought for paid family leave in the House of Delegates. If your new year’s resolution was to listen to and help elect Black women, this is the place to start. Jennifer is in a very competitive primary, and needs your support now. Donations start at $250; donate and RSVP here.

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: Our Time Is Now: Power, Purpose, and the Fight for a Fair America by Stacey Abrams and Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell.