While Run for Something helped funnel enthusiastic candidates into electoral politics, groups like Flippable, Sister District and Forward Majority provided another approach. They focused their efforts on reclaiming the state legislative chambers most crucial for the 2021 redistricting. They targeted blue and purple states which had been under complete GOP control since 2010, such as Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida, Virginia and North Carolina; red states with changing demographics, like Texas and Arizona; and competitive states including Washington and Colorado, where a small number of Democratic gains would be enough to create a blue trifecta.
Together, they channeled dollars and volunteers toward these small local races with massive national impact. Republican strategists and donors had long ago unlocked the importance of these elections and built the party’s national power one state legislative chamber at a time. Republicans captured more than 700 state legislative seats in the 2010 Tea Party wave, then locked in those gains with redistricting, tilting the playing field an even rubier red. In all, Republicans gained more than 1,000 state legislative seats during the Obama years, and used those majorities to enact measures making it more difficult to register to vote or cast a ballot in twenty-five states, further disadvantaging Democrats and consolidating GOP power.
“Democrats had an entire cycle of losing,” says Vicky Hausman, the co-founder of Forward Majority.
Democrats contested more than 5,300 of the 6,066 state legislative seats up for election in 2018, the highest percentage in more than a decade. In one year, they won back almost 450 of the seats that had washed away over the previous decade. It came bottom-up, as Run for Something, Sister District and Forward Majority delivered energy, candidates and strategic smarts to races that the party ignored. They helped win majorities in the Colorado and New York senate, and eroded GOP majorities in Pennsylvania and Arizona. They cracked a Republican supermajority in North Carolina and significantly improved their party’s position in Florida, Michigan and Texas, gaining important yardage with one election to go before the next redistricting.
Read the full excerpt in The Guardian.