North Carolina is the most flippable state in the country. Here are the best targets for Democrats.

Democrats need to win just five seats to flip the State Senate and six seats to do the same in the State House of Representatives

After Democrats flipped swing states like Colorado and Virginia all blue in 2018 and 2019, the biggest target for a wholesale flip in 2020 is North Carolina.

In fact, you could say North Carolina has already flipped blue — its representatives just need to reflect it. Democrats won a majority of votes statewide in 2018, but thanks to one of the most egregious gerrymanders in the country, Republicans were able to keep control of the state legislature and pass horrible anti-LGBTQ laws; only an end to their supermajority, earned in 2018, sustained a veto of a terrible anti-choice bill.

Last fall, the State Supreme Court ordered legislators to redraw the maps to even out the worst parts of the gerrymander, which gives Democrats a strong chance to win back both chambers in Raleigh this year as well as the state’s electoral votes in the presidential election. Democrats need to win just five seats to flip the State Senate and six seats to do the same in the State House of Representatives. Here’s a look at some of the best flip opportunities — hat tip to FlipNC for help with analyzing the redistricting.

If you’re excited about flipping North Carolina’s legislature and its electoral votes, CLICK HERE to donate to the great candidates below!

State Senate District 39: You never want to say an election is in the bag, but this one is about as close as it gets without a candidate running unopposed. This Charlotte-area seat had its lines redrawn in the redistricting, going from a GOP gerrymander to a district that favors Democrats by a whopping 25 points. Even better, Democrats nominated a rising star named DeAndrea Salvador, a 29-year-old who founded her own renewable energy nonprofit and was a TED fellow in 2018.

State Senate District 18: Though not quite as big a slam dunk as District 39, this Wake Forest-area district now leans Democratic by six points. Running for Team Blue is Sarah Crawford, who has made a career out of working for nonprofits focused on education, healthcare, and economic stability.

State Senate District 31: Another Wake Forest-area district, this one shifts from being gerrymandered for Republicans to running about even. In 2018 Terri LeGrand, a lawyer and financial aid administrator at Wake Forest University, came close to beating the district’s very anti-abortion senator anyway, and now she’s got an even better shot. We interviewed LeGrand a few months back — check it out!

State Senate District 1: After keeping a very red State House district within 10 points in 2016, Tess Judge is now running to flip a larger State Senate district that’s much closer to dead even. It’s pretty ridiculously gerrymandered, but it should still be a down-to-the-wire race.

State House District 63: In 2018, this central North Carolina district was decided by less than 300 votes. This time around, Democrats have a decisive advantage thanks to the redistricting tweaks and another great candidate, Ricky Hurtado. A first-generation American, Hurtado has also had a career in non-profits, largely focusing on expanding access to education to working people and immigrants.

State House District 9: The now-defunct gerrymander of this district was so egregious, Democrats are going from getting swamped by 20 points in 2018 to being favored to take the seat. The party’s candidate, Brian Farkas, grew up in the Eastern Carolina area and is just 33-years-old, making him another one of the young stars running this year.

State House District 45: Another district that’s going to see a big swing thanks to gerrymandering being straightened out. GOP Rep. John Szoka won by 17 points in 2018 but now will have to face a fair race against a great candidate: Frances Jackson, a long-time community leader, teacher, and county magistrate.

State House District 59: Similar story in this northwestern Carolina district, which voted Republican by 13 points in 2018 but is now much more competitive. Nicole Quick, an occupational therapist and advocate for children with autism, ran unopposed in the Democratic primary.

State House District 82: Democrat Aimy Steele ran a strong race in 2018 as a first-time candidate, losing by less than six points, and now she’s back to finish the job in this western North Carolina district. She is a former public school principal who is very focused on education policy, a hot-button issue in North Carolina.

State House District 74: Terri LeGrand ran in this district in 2018, while Dan Besse ran in the neighboring 75th House district, where he overperformed recent Democrats and lost by just seven points. The 74th district has been redrawn to be less gerrymandered, and those two factors combined make this a very good flip opportunity.

If you’re excited about flipping North Carolina’s legislature and its electoral votes, CLICK HERE to donate to the great candidates above!

Gerrymandered protection gone, one of NC’s most anti-abortion legislators is facing heat

Many modern GOP lawmakers are by nature whackjobs, but it’s their overwhelming job security that brings out the truly evil stuff. North Carolina, where a racist gerrymander allowed Republicans’ most reactionary lawmakers to run wild, is a prime example.

From the infamous “bathroom bill” to voter ID and abortion restrictions, it’s been a true conservative nightmare. Since 2015, State Senator Joyce Krawiec (R-SD-31) has taken advantage of her gerrymandered seat to push some of the worst Republican laws, including the noxious “born alive” anti-abortion bill, which she introduced and sponsored (it was later vetoed by Gov. Roy Cooper).

Thankfully, the gerrymander was finally thrown out by a state court last fall, leading to redrawn maps that made Krawiec’s district significantly more competitive and give Democratic challenger Terri LeGrand a real chance at flipping it.

LeGrand, a lawyer who has spent years working in higher education, first ran for State House in 2018 and swung an extremely gerrymandered House district by 20 points; she made it competitive for the first time in years and drove its Republican into retirement this cycle. Now, in a fairer district, she’s got a chance to straight-up take down a far-right Republican and turn North Carolina blue.

“I always paid attention to politics, but before I ran in 2018, I just kind of assumed that there was a bold line between two groups of people and there were stark differences [between Democratic and Republican voters],” LeGrand tells Progressives Everywhere. “But as you’re out on the trail and you’re talking to voters and listening to voters, you realize that we’re all united in far more ways than we’re divided.”

CLICK HERE to donate to Terri LeGrand via Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page!

Continue reading “Gerrymandered protection gone, one of NC’s most anti-abortion legislators is facing heat”

Down Home is organizing the rural south and overcoming the legacy of racism

The Democratic Party made much of its inroads in 2018 by picking off low-hanging fruit, flipping some legislatures and half of Congress by winning districts with big demographics shifts, mainly in urban and large suburban areas. It was a huge first step, but any hope of a sustained majority and transformative progress is going to require success in more rural areas, which have become the bright-red homes to some of the most unhinged right-wing Republican lawmakers.

North Carolina is a perfect example. Democrats, powered by new voters in cities like Charlotte and Raleigh, won more votes in the state in 2018, and were able to break the GOP supermajority, but Republicans still won more seats in the state legislature and a whopping 10 out of 13 Congressional seats. Why? In a vile cycle of systemic evil that took decades to install, Republicans took control of rural areas, seized the state government in the 2010 wave election, and then gerrymandered the hell out of the state map. The NC GOP is a melange of unhinged reactionaries, and has been advancing blatantly anti-democratic, anti-human laws ever since, from voter ID to the ignominious anti-trans bathroom bills.

The 2018 election was a good first step for Democrats in the state, but the modest gains could prove short-lived if the 2020 election isn’t even better. “If it’s not divided at least between a majority in the two state houses,” explains Todd Zimmer, the co-founder of the activist group Down Home North Carolina, “the Republicans will be able to draw all the maps again right after the 2020 census and put us right back where we were 10 years ago.”

Democrats need to pick up five seats in the State Senate and six in the State House to take back the majority in each chamber, and now the road to restoring sanity and building equality in North Carolina runs through the still-red rural parts of the state. Down Home NC is helping to lead the charge. They’re working to build grassroots power 365 days a year, with an eye on winning elections at the local level up through the US Senate (North Carolina has a top-tier race in 2020), by organizing working people on a county-by-county level.

“We set out to start building permanent long-term infrastructure, including candidate pipelines,” Zimmer says. As a county-based organization with a state-wide umbrella leadership, Down Home North Carolina right now has three main chapters, two in Appalachian Mountain West and one in the central Piedmont of North Carolina. This will be a year of rapid expansion, with two more planned for 2019, one in the Appalachians and another Piedmont chapter closer to Charlotte. Unlike many groups, the local infrastructure is less a tool for disseminating top-down messages and priorities than rallying grassroots energy tailored to regional needs.

“When we enter a community, we do a several thousand door listening survey to find out what the top issues are for low-income people of all political stripes, and what their top solutions are,” Zimmer says. “We turn that into a platform and our members evaluate potential candidates based on that platform. We are really only trying to support candidates who are speaking to the top issues of rural communities.”

Continue reading “Down Home is organizing the rural south and overcoming the legacy of racism”

The progressive group making a huge impact in red states

By mid-November, it was clear that the midterm elections went really well for Democrats — and even better for progressives.

Grassroots activists were able to enact a slew of progressive priorities via ballot initiatives, even in states where Democrats rarely win elections. In Idaho, Utah, and Nebraska, voters overwhelmingly chose to expand Medicaid. In Michigan, they supported nonpartisan redistricting reform, expanding voting rights, and legalizing marijuana. In Missouri and Arkansas, voters voted to raise the minimum wage. Floridians, meanwhile, gave the vote back to over a million rehabilitated ex-felons.

The list of victories goes on and on, marking triumphs for a number of grassroots groups and the ascendance of one national organization: The Fairness Project, a DC-based 501(c)(4) that works to support local activists at every step of the ballot initiative process. The organization was involved in each minimum wage and Medicaid expansion victory, a win for regulating payday loans in Colorado, and a number of other ballot wins last month.

“By actually putting progressive wins on the board there,” Jonathan Schleifer, the Executive Director of The Fairness Project, tells Progressives Everywhere, “we demonstrated that Americans are much less interested in the divisiveness of the current administration and much more interested — when given the opportunity — to look out for each other and actually make progressive policy.”

After a week filled with lame-duck Republican legislators making a mockery of democracy and thumbing their nose at voters, it’s clear that direct ballot initiatives are going to be even more essential tools in our activism. With that in mind, here is Progressives Everywhere’s conversation with Schleifer about how The Fairness Project goes about supporting grassroots groups and what’s coming next.

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The wreckage from a week of Republican power-grabs

The Republican Party has now fully entered the next phase of its all-out war on American democracy — not only are they cheating in an effort to win elections, they’ll now disregard the will of voters when they lose. After giving it a test run in 2016, when the GOP-controlled North Carolina legislature tried to strip Democratic Governor-elect Roy Cooper of many of his powers, Republicans are going all-in on the strategy in key states across the country.

The scheme played out this past week in Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, and once again in North Carolina, where Republicans have become the nation’s leaders in abject and blatant cheating. It’s hard to keep up with all the corruption, as so many of the most insidious clauses and maneuvers are nestled into giant bills that were kept secret from the public up until now. To help catch you up, here’s a running list of state GOP’s anti-democratic lame-duck treachery.

Wisconsin:

In a marathon Tuesday night session that stretched into the next morning’s rush hour commute, the GOP-held legislature passed a number of bills that will hamstring Democratic Governor-elect Tony Evers and Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul. The state is already gerrymandered beyond belief, which allowed Republicans to keep their legislative majority despite Democrats earning a majority of statewide votes this November. You’d think that would send a message to GOP legislators, but that assumes that modern Republicans have consciences or even self-awareness.

Awaiting outgoing GOP Gov. Scott Walker’s signature are a number of bills that will significantly weaken the executive branch and hurt voters and working people. They will:

  • Curtail early voting, reducing it from six to two weeks before the election;
  • Double down on new Medicaid work requirements
  • Stripping the Attorney General of the ability to remove the state from lawsuits, including the suit against the Affordable Care Act
  • Takes away Evers power to control or disband a key economic development council
  • Require legislative approval for some decisions made by the Governor

Continue reading “The wreckage from a week of Republican power-grabs”