MARCHING FORWARD MASS leaders, members, friends and neighbors. WOW, what a group of activists! This is a LONG blogpost but we have lots to say and we hope you enjoy reading. Please send thoughts and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
From our start in January 2017 as we returned from Marches across our nation (and world), we came together to form strategies as a positive and pragmatic path forward during the most volatile political times in many of our collective memories.
We gathered friends and neighbors from the South Coast to decide on best practices for our nascent group. We aligned with Indivisible Guide together with Sister Organizations in regions within the State of MA. First, we formed HUDDLE groups around key areas requiring protective actions: Healthcare, Immigration, (Protection of) Honest Journalism, Political Actions and Environment. We huddled in subgroups and "rolled up" into our combined MFM (Marching Forward Mass) group to gain knowledge, share learnings and form actions. Speakers included Helena DaSilva Hughes with State Senator Chris Markey (Immigration), Paul Feeney, newly announced MA State Senate Candidate and now State Senator (Foxboro) and Tad Devine (Al Gore, Bernie Sanders National Campaign Consultant) with Scott Lang, Attorney and former Mayor of New Bedford, as well as Michael ROCHA MD , who spoke with our Healthcare Huddle on moving to Healthcare for All. We closed the year with a forum for constituents with our U.S. Congressman Bill Keating and our Journalism Huddle hosted an evening with Charles Sennett, The Ground Truth Project.
We have deepened long term friendships, made new friends and welcomed many new residents to our towns seeking like minded political activists looking to affect positive change.To enable this our website, www.marchingforwardmass.com, provides our home base for communication, outreach and database management. 450 interested citizens follow us on our Facebook page. All of this "funded" by volunteers and a donation jar passed at meetings and events*.
Early last Spring, we turned our attentions to the essential Midterm Elections, November 6, 2018. We first attended an Indivisible Guide conference in Worcester, MA and then met with a partner IG (Indivisible Guide) team in Weston, MA who are expert at tracking data on candidates in "swing regions" of our country. We learned that Congressional seats were the most likely to benefit from our actions. Our leaders met together to form strategies: First, we decided that we wanted to "step out of our Blue state" with attention on Congressional Campaigns in regions close enough to travel to at Canvassing time. We launched our "ADOPT A CANDIDATE" program in April and backed our first Candidate Conor Lamb, PA 17. Our list of candidates was sent to our full membership for online voting and four additional districts (some had primaries) were selected for focus and support: NJ03, ANDY KIM (in June, Mary Boger and Terry Cryan hosted a well attended breakfast at Mary's home in June with ANDY); NJ11 MIKIE SHERRILL, led by team leaders Laurie Bullard, Nancy Train Smith (who both grew up in the district) and John Bullard; ME02, JARED GOLDEN led by Vic Mailey, Bess Coughlin and Bettina Borders; and NY01, PERRY GERSHON led by Judy Jenkins, Barbara Trecker, Susan Kehoe and Rachel Lewis.
Each team expanded to include relatives, friends and neighbors to participate in each campaign's plan of attack. Every team began by connecting to Campaign Directors to determine how we could best help. Tactics included postcard mailing, calling, texting, sending money (of course) and canvassing in districts. We were all so grateful for the generosity of TIME, resources and donated housing from the members of each team. Many of us have now lived together, walked muddy roads together, discovered "minivan" software, had like-minded and vastly opposing political conversations, felt safe and unsafe but mostly purposeful in our attempt to contribute to the complex work of protecting our democracy, piece by piece. Working together with focus, purpose, passion and AN END DATE has been hard work and rewarding. Mostly we agree that it has been spirited FUN.
The 2018 Midterm Election gave Democrats control of the House AND gains in Governorships and State Legislatures, too. Democrats gained enough seats to deprive Republicans of super majorities in Michigan, North Carolina and Pennsylvania and set a record for the number of single-party-controlled legislatures. Only Minnesota will be divided. The last time U.S. had only one divided legislature was in 1914. With final ballots counted, Democrats have achieved a total takeover of congressionals seats in the one-time Republican bastion of Orange County known as “Regan Country”).
Women have never held more than 84 of the 435 seats in the House. 100 Women, who are overwhelmingly Democrats, have been officially declared winners (net gain +4%) and it's not just numbers but a diverse group of women:
MA and CT are the first to have African American Congresswomen;
Texas elected its first two Latina women;
Two Muslim women and two Native American Women will be part of our new Congress;
Two of the youngest women, both 29, were elected to Congress.
Our Adopted Candidates results:
Perry Gershon, NY01: Our group, lead by Judy Jenkins, Barbara Trecker, Susan Kehoe and Rachel Lewis, found campaign directors to be most responsive and eager for our engagement. Leaders led many of us with strong actions and thousands of postcards written for Perry. The campaign was a very difficult race from the beginning as voters liked status quo in this very red, wealthy district believed to be enjoying tax breaks both corporate and individual. Further complicating this campaign was a population low in year round “millennials.” Trump-like incumbent remains.
MIKIE SHERRILL, NJ11: Mikie is a strong candidate seeking a seat vacant due to retirement. Our group, led by Laurie Bullard, Nancy Train Smith (who both grew up in region) and John Bullard, found the Campaign well-staffed (both paid and volunteer), organized, and welcoming with progressive training from canvassing 101 on up. John and Laurie spent time with Mikie’s father at a post-election party and Laurie received an email from Mikie post-election. Canvassers spent several (often rainy) weekends in the region.
ANDY KIM, NJ03: After accepting a very narrow win and a challenge of results, Andy was declared the winner a week following election. The campaign was very responsive and eager for “boots on the ground.” Andy was well known to many of us as we were introduced and devotees after meeting him in our hometown in June. A band of activists led by Terry Cryan and Mary Boger rented a place in the NJ region together (dorm room anyone?) and knocked on hundreds of doors over a four day stay just prior to Election Day.
JARED GOLDEN, ME02: After a nail biting challenge to “ranked choice voting” law, Jared Golden has been declared the winner in this very tight race. Leaders Vic Mailey, Bess Coughlin and Bettina Borders spent seven weeks in this huge district with three contingencies. It is the largest Congressional District East of the Mississippi (28,000 Square Miles) and the 24th largest district overall. Generous friends donated housing in multiple locations and several teams participated in sections and blocks of time. Rick Schnure hosted groups for canvassing in Mexico, Rumford and Bethel, Maine and Betsy Powell canvassed together with her sister through their childhood neighborhoods and surrounds. When I witnessed the campaign outpost being set up in Machias by Bettina, Vic and Bess, I realized how deeply embedded they were and how the campaign was so deeply grateful for their leadership, actions, organization, compassion and fight! Vic says “In all the areas where South Coasters worked - Hancock, Oxford and Washington Counties - Democrats outperformed their showing in 2016”.
MIKIE SHERRILL, NJ11, ANDY KIM, NJ03 and JARED GOLDEN, ME02 now represent their constituents in the 116th U.S. CONGRESS!
I am SO honored to have served by your sides as we took strategic actions together.
We gathered many of our leaders together two days post-election day while several of our AAC races were still pending. We shared stories and experiences. As I walked into my kitchen to join our activists, friends and neighbors, whom I know so much better now, I nearly burst into tears as EVERY PERSON in that room (and many who couldn’t make it on that particular night) would have been active in the Midterm elections in some shape or form. What they, and many of you have said, is it is the sense of “community” in our group that unites us and forms a collaborative to form strategies and actions with spirit. Our “regional, neighborhood group” MARCHING FORWARD MASS is like SO MANY activist organizations that sprung up after the 2016 election. We are united as Indivisible Guide groups and part of the whole. YUP. This IS what Democracy looks like.