At EveryDistrict, we believe that Democrats can build power in the states by strategically investing in the most competitive state legislative districts to build a movement from the grassroots up to win back our states. In 2019, EveryDistrict is investing in two states: Virginia and Mississippi. Today, we’re announcing our first endorsements in each state. Read on to learn more about our 2019 strategy and our first round of endorsees. You can support these candidates by making a donation here; your donation will go directly to supporting these candidates.
Over the past two years, Democrats have moved six states into Democratic control. Democrats have the opportunity to turn Virginia blue in both the Senate and the House by flipping only four districts across the two chambers. But there’s an opportunity to do so much more and build a sustainable majority that can make real change. We can make Virginia a blue state this year.
In 2017, Democrats ran on a message of Medicaid expansion. Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) had been unable to convince the Republican legislature to support it, but a Democratic House of Delegates would. Even though Democrats didn’t flip the chamber, they were able to pass Medicaid expansion in 2018 and give 400,000 more Virginians access to health care.
On other issues, however, the Republican majority in the legislature remains out of step with the voters of Virginia. Virginia’s minimum wage remains the federal minimum wage ($7.25/hour); Senate Republicans specifically took up a bill that would have raised the minimum wage to $15/hour only to kill it, to send a message to big business about whose interests they represent. GOP leadership in the House blocked introduction of a bill that would have banned housing discrimination based on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. House Republicans voted down a number of gun safety measures, even some that have gained bipartisan support elsewhere. House Republicans also thwarted attempts to pass the ERA; if Virginia were to pass it, Virginia would become the 38th (and theoretically last needed) state to ratify the amendment.
The GOP majority in the legislature has made clear that progressive change in Virginia will not happen as long as Republicans remain in control. With a strong Democratic majority, we can make real progress. A sizable majority won’t happen without an aggressive vision. In 2017, Democrats did not think big enough. In five key districts where we lost by 500 votes cumulatively, Democrats were outspent by $500,000. That can’t happen this time around.
Today, we’re announcing ten Virginia State House endorsements that get us closer to our goal of putting Democrats in the driver’s seat in Virginia. Six of these candidates are incumbents who we supported in 2017 who face competitive re-election campaigns: Wendy Gooditis (HD 10), Kelly Fowler (HD 21), Elizabeth Guzman (HD 31), Hala Ayala (HD 51), Dawn Adams (HD 68), and Schuyler VanValkenburg (HD 72). EveryDistrict supported Shelly Simonds (HD 94) in 2017; she lost when her race ended in a tie and lots were drawn to determine the winner. We’re proud to be supporting her again. In 2017, EveryDistrict endorsed Donte Tanner in his race for House of Delegates District 40; Donte lost by only 106 votes. This year, EveryDistrict is endorsing Dan Helmer who is running to flip the seat. EveryDistrict is also endorsing candidates in two new districts: Larry Barnett (HD 27) and Karen Mallard (HD 83). Larry ran a spirited grassroots campaign in 2017 and lost by only 128 votes. Stay tuned for more Virginia endorsements in the coming weeks.
In Mississippi, Democrats have their best chance in a decade to win back the Governor’s Mansion in 2019. Mississippi will also hold elections for State Senate and the State House, with implications for the Governor’s race. According to the Mississippi Constitution, candidates for Governor must win both the popular vote and a majority of the vote in the majority of State House districts. That’s right; Mississippi has a state-level electoral college. While we don’t get involved in gubernatorial races, our work in Mississippi to invest in state legislative candidates in competitive districts will enable us to achieve success at the top of the ticket. We will support candidates who can move Mississippi blue by competing for seats and by driving grassroots energy for Democrats that lifts all boats.
We aim to play a role in getting every district possible to vote for a different future for Mississippi. Like Virginia in 2017, Mississippi has not expanded Medicaid, despite a majority of people in Mississippi supporting expansion. Mississippi ranks seventh in the nation among states with the highest uninsured population, but expanding Medicaid would allow 300,000 people to gain access to coverage. Mississippi ranks last in the nation in teacher pay. This past legislative session, the legislature approved a paltry $1,500 raise for teachers, which Mississippi teachers have called insulting given their already-poor compensation. At the same time, Mississippi legislators allocated an additional $2 million for vouchers.
Today, EveryDistrict is endorsing three candidates for the Mississippi legislature running in Republican-held districts: Shanda Yates (HD 64), Brandon Rue (HD 102), and Kevin Frye (SD 9). We’re also endorsing Tiffany Kilpatrick (HD 12), who is running in a key Democratic hold district. Stay tuned for more Mississippi endorsements in the coming weeks.
In 2017, we launched EveryDistrict with the mission to win back the states by making it easier for you to get involved to support candidates running in competitive districts.
We started in Virginia, where Democrats faced a 17-seat deficit in the House. We were told that a five-seat gain would be a great night for Democrats, but our data analysis showed 18 highly competitive Republican-held districts that Democrats could win with the right investment and strategy. We endorsed 13 Democratic challengers, and on Election Night Democrats flipped an historic 15 seats. Ten of those candidates were EveryDistrict endorsees.
In 2018, we launched our map, a first-of-its-kind interactive platform to help you find competitive districts across the country and get involved to support candidates running in those districts. EveryDistrict endorsed 62 candidates across five states (Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania), and on Election Night 27 of our candidates won.
To learn more about EveryDistrict, visit EveryDistrict.us.