More than 50 fired-up WDC members and guests participated in the PACE (Political Activism and Civic Engagement) Committee Fall Campaign Kickoff on September 9. They were there to learn more about volunteering in key campaigns, and a wealth of information and insight was shared by Kickoff speakers:
Matt Caffery, Eastern field director for Swing Left, said the most important 2020 battles will be concentrated in the same few states. By focusing on 11 “Super States,” we can work on flipping the White House, the Senate and the State Houses key to rolling back Republican gerrymandering—all at the same time. Those are the states PACE and its partners—J Walkers, YesWeCanvass, Do The Most Good— are targeting through 2020. Caffery also said that writing personal letters with enclosed voter registration forms to unregistered Democrats, known as VRBM (Voter Registration by Mail) is being employed for 2020 after research in 2018 showed the technique to be promising.
Caroline Welles, Early Primary and Caucus States Manager at the Democratic National Committee, provided a preview of the primary contests and caucuses that precede the Democratic Convention July 13-16 in Milwaukee. She discussed the importance of state and local elections in extending Democratic values and the role of the DNC in supporting campaigns.
Virginia candidates Joshua Cole and Delegate Kathy Tran asked for WDC’s help to flip just two seats in the Virginia legislature to ensure a Democratic takeover. Cole lost his race in 2017 by just 73 votes due in part to some questionable election day tactics. Many participants signed up on the spot to help Josh and Delegate Tran. As chair of the Virginia House Democratic Caucus, Tran emphasized the need for both financial and volunteer help in the drive to win on November 5.
Also on the agenda: breakout training sessions on organizing and canvassing. Melissa Panagides-Busch of YesWeCanvass led a lively discussion on the value of knocking on doors and talking with voters. Josh and Kathy said they hope to see lots of WDCers canvassing in Virginia and dispelled concerns about “outsiders” going door-to-door. PACE co-chair Barbara Noveau talked to a group of budding organizers about what organizing entails. After demonstrating that everyone has organizing skills, she talked about the importance of forming relationships with your volunteers, getting to know them as people and providing opportunities for them to gradually take on leadership.
Most people left the Kickoff ready to up their commitment to canvassing, calling, writing, and texting voters in the super states and Virginia. Nothing is more important than winning the Senate and the White House next year and every single member of WDC should be helping right now.
You can start by doing three things
Go to http://bit.ly/YesWeCanvass and http://bit.ly/jwalkersaction for information on candidates and schedules. Most canvasses are listed in YestWeCanvass. J Walkers has phone banks and voter registration events as well as additional canvasses.
Decide how much you will be able to do over the next 6 weeks, pick your events and sign up, then leave the rest to us. We’ll confirm your schedule, provide the information you need to prepare, train you, and lead you through your first event.
If you think you’d like to volunteer to host a letter-writing (VRBM), texting or phoning session in your home, we’re ready to train you, guide you through the process and provide support at your event. Contact Barbara Noveau or Lynn Olson.
Thanks to everyone who came to the Kickoff. Special shout-outs to Lisa Henderson, Emily Koechlin and Gwen Stewart who helped onsite and Deborah Stoll, who helped with calling PACE members.