Democrats came up short on Tuesday with losses in both GA and SC. People and pundits will go over the ‘should have, would have, could have’ list for the future. There will be plenty of time to analyze and reflect the data as it become available.
Equally—if not more—important is to look forward to the future and take the next steps. Read that again, take the next steps, not determining or figuring them out – actually making decisions and acting on them.
Both Virginia and New Jersey have elections this year. In New Jersey, the Democrats are trying to take back the Governor’s mansion and pick up a super majority in their state legislature. In Virginia, Democrats are trying to pick up seats in the House of Delegates, and hold on to the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General offices.
By now many people have heard the pitch – currently in the 100-member House of Delegates there are 34 Democrats and 66 Republicans. Of the seats the Republicans currently hold, 17 of those districts went for Hillary Clinton. Conventional wisdom indicates that Democrats have to win all 17 of those districts to take the majority with 51 seats.
The Competitive Commonwealth Fund is looking beyond those 17 districts and focusing on campaigns which are not in the spotlight. We are ensuring that candidates running in every corner of the commonwealth have the training, tools, and resources available to run a functional campaign.
Democrats ought to think beyond a “50 state strategy”, or even in Virginia, a “100 House District and 40 Senate district strategy,” and shift the focus to building our bench. Beyond the General Assembly within the 133 localities and numerous municipalities there are over 3.500 elected positions throughout the Commonwealth. All politics are local, and when we focus on electing people at the local level we have not only the ability to elevate them to higher office, but also to ensure Democrats are elected to fill seats being vacated.
Our Party often finds itself having a difficult time looking for candidates to run for higher office due to the lack of a bench. When we start endorsing and electing people at the local level who can deliver impactful change and be a messenger for the party we will be better suited to get the offices at the higher level elected.
Imagine a race in which a Democrat holds every lower office, and all of those people not only endorse a nominee, but they work on turning out the vote for those individuals running. We have seen this to be successful in other areas of the country and even in parts of the Commonwealth.
This is the vision of the Competitive Commonwealth Fund, to chip away at the barriers of entry and get Democrats elected up and down the ballot. We are focusing first on deep red districts where a little can go a long way. The task at hand is not an easy one, but with the right effort and patience it is one that is obtainable.
So, let’s lick our wounds and turn our focus to Virginia and beyond. Local races are just as important, if not more so than the marquee races at the top of the ticket. It’s time to return to our roots.