What’s the state of the party, 238 days till Nov 6? Are we still headed in the right direction? Or are we already there?
These were questions I asked myself as I flew to DC last week for the DNC Winter meeting. Since October, we’d seen stunning wins in Virginia and Alabama and an unprecedented number of candidates running for election in every district across the US. The Unity Reform Commission had submitted its report on party reform for consideration, and the DNC had expanded and strengthened its staff across all departments. But we’d heard this news from a distance. What would the party look like up close and in person?
Since our last meeting in October, the DNC has come a long way. New staff in October are veterans by now, seasoned through their in-state work in Virginia and Alabama. They know the state parties too, thanks to the visits they have made to each as they prepared for grant allocations and got to know the state parties better.
The DNC wants to make sure its leaders know what we’re working for. They organized their messaging across speakers and repeated it often: we cannot accept the status quo, we must work for change, we must fight for health care for all, get out the vote among millennials, and keep our eyes on our voter base. They noted that voter protection is crucial, and partners are key to success and engagement. Their aim for 2018: to take back the House and Senate and reach 50 million Americans.
We also got to see just how deep the bench was this year. We met the newly elected mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, and heard from Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker and Doug Jones. We also heard from state level politicians from county clerk to mayors and state legislators. The message was clear - every zip code counts.
Because there is so much opportunity in 2018 to pick up elections in red and purple districts (yes PA18!!!!), opportunities for Democrats Abroad to make a difference are huge as well. Many races will not be won by a wide point spread and every vote will count. Our DA DNC team worked all week to spread that message, making sure states knew that we were ready to be the margin of victory in their tight elections. State parties took note, and Tom Perez heard our message too: he mentioned Democrats Abroad in his Chair's report during Saturday's General Meeting, thanked us for our wins in 2016 and noted that he was looking forward to us helping win victories in 2018.
I’m excited by what our team achieved this last week. I’m also making a list of all that we have to do in the next few weeks as we follow up with states and the DNC and scale up the projects we have started so that we can truly be the margin of victory this year.
A few highlights of what our DNC team accomplished in DC:
Democrats Abroad presented our targeted state outreach project during the general meeting of the Association of State Democratic Committees (ASDC). We were the only state party given time on the agenda.
We met with 40+ state parties to discuss DA’s state outreach project.
We met with College Dems to finalize their state-side partnership on our study abroad outreach program.
- Our DA DNC team met with Chairman Perez to discuss our 2018 plans and opportunities for this year.
During Saturday’s General Meeting and in his Chair’s report, Chairman Perez thanked Democrats Abroad for our work and specifically noted our wins from 2016.
During the General Meeting, we spoke in support of the Unity Reform Commission’s recommendations, noting that Democrats Abroad had already undertaken many of these in 2016, leading to a 50% increase in voter participation. Our comments met with support from a wide circle of DNC members.
We came home with a list a kilometer long of follow-ups with states and DNC members, and a wonderful amount of goodwill.
Many thanks to Adrianne George, Connie Borde, Ken Sherman, Martha McDevitt-Pugh and Orlando Vidal for their fantastic support. I couldn’t be more thankful for all their work and outreach and proud to be part of such a fantastic team.