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Texas Sen. Wendy Davis
It is somewhat inevitable that any discussion of elective politics in this country focuses on the presidency first and foremost. After the battle for the White House, any discussion of the congressional balance of power usually comes in a distant second in the public conversation, perhaps in a tie with gubernatorial races. Beyond that, it gets awfully quiet.

Case in point—there is already a blog, written by well-known former Politico reporter Dave Catanese, chronicling all of the news and views about the upcoming presidential election.

The 2016 presidential election.

And the site has been in existence since March of this year. In other words, the site launched roughly 1,350 days prior to the actual election date. A touch premature? Perhaps.

Perhaps not: One would suspect that there is more of a demand for 2016 presidential horse race news than there is in the multitude of races scheduled for the 2013-2014 cycles. A lot of those races, quite frankly, will fly below the radar.

But, one of (several) big political events this week underscored how critically important many of those races are.

There are, quite literally, thousands of state legislative races potentially on the docket between now and November of 2014, and if recent history proves anything, they matter a great deal, indeed.

The state legislative battles have become something of a special area of interest for me recently. Follow me below the fold for why they should become a special area of interest for you, as well.

It is pretty easy to see why state legislative races get scant attention. For one thing, there are just so damned many of them. At Daily Kos Elections, the traditional focus has been statewide elections (gubernatorial elections, particularly) and the battle for Congress. That's because, weeding out the "some dude" races and the unopposed incumbents, the field of coverage is still quite manageable. Come November of 2014, we may well be talking about 100-150 contests, at the very most.

How many state legislative seats will be up for grabs between then and now? North of 7,000 seats. We're good, but we're not that good.

But one of my homework assignments over the next several months is to establish a database of state legislative races, in order to winnow the field down to a more reasonable number and keep our community (particularly the DKE community) appraised of what is going on in those races.

After all, a case could be made that not only are the goings-on in the various state legislatures around our nation as important as what is going on in Washington, D.C., they may well be more important.

The current state of play in our nation's capital would seem to buttress that argument. The prevailing intransigence in Washington, D.C., has made actual governing almost a relic, a quaint notion that will have to wait until one party can convince the voters that they deserve the keys to both branches at once. At the risk of sounding cynical, it might be a while before that happens.

Meanwhile, at the state legislative level, governing is absolutely happening, for good and for ill. Take, for example, a cursory glance at Friday's Daily Kos front page. If you were reading the site Friday morning, you would have read about how the North Carolina state legislature gutting unemployment compensation in a state where the unemployment rate is still hovering near nine percent.

And, of course, there was the fight over SB5 in Texas, a debate over draconian anti-abortion measures that thrust state Sen. Wendy Davis into not just the spotlight in her home state, but the national spotlight.

Any local activist can tell you that there are unthinkable measures of this ilk (and not just on reproductive freedom) all over the map.

As most readers of Daily Kos already know, there is an effort underfoot to draft Wendy Davis to run against Gov. Rick Perry in Texas. I strongly support this move, not just because Davis would give Perry fits, but because Perry's post-filibuster shenanigans make clear that there needs to be someone other than him in the governor's mansion.

Rest assured, however, that there are scores of other state legislators and state legislative candidates with that kind of drive willing to stand and be heard around the country. Find one to support. Conversely, there are creatures running around the state legislatures of America that make the Michele Bachmanns and Steve Kings of the world look almost measured and temperate. Find one to oppose.

The beauty of getting involved at this more localized level is that the return on investment in these cases is so comparably high. Remember Arkansas state Sen. Jason Rapert? If the name doesn't ring a bell, you may well remember what he said:

I hear you loud and clear, Barack Obama. You don't represent the country that I grew up with. And your values is not going to save us. We're going to take this country back to the Lord. We're going to try to take this country back for conservatism. And we're not going to allow minorities to run roughshod over what you people believe in!
Rapert was first elected to the Arkansas state Senate in 2010. The cost of victory for Rapert was ... $97,000.

Now, in fairness, not all state lege races come that cheap (Indeed, Rapert had to spend four times that amount in his re-election, a high profile race in 2012). An excellent case in point is the aforementioned Wendy Davis, who represents a state Senate district larger than the congressional districts in Texas (a fact that is true only in Texas and California). In both her initial election in 2008 and her re-election in 2012, Davis had to spend seven figures in order to hold her purplish-red district in the D/FW metro area (indeed, her fundraising prowess is another reason she'd make an excellent gubernatorial prospect).

That said, a huge number of races that are competitive at the legislative level (particularly in the smaller state House districts) will be won with warchests that range from the high-five figures to the low-six figures. That stands in stark contrast to competitive U.S. House seats (where you can increase that by a factor of 10) or statewide U.S. Senate and gubernatorial races (where you can increase that, often, by a factor of 100).

There are good candidates, setting up to run in races in the next 18 months, who need to be in elected office. Conversely, there are a multitiude of purely awful officeholders who need to be unemployed.

I said at the beginning of this piece that a lot of these races fly under the radar. And that is true. But some of the worst attacks on democracy are not easily detected on radar. Sure, it would be an incredible result to gain back control of the House and see the return of Speaker Pelosi. That said, don't take your eye of the ball: There is a lot of governing happening in your backyard, as well as in the backyard of many of your fellow Americans. We would be wise to pay attention.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Sun Jun 30, 2013 at 06:55 PM PDT.

Also republished by State & Local ACTION Group and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Let's not forget ALEC. (37+ / 0-)

    State legislatures are where they operate and they make big gains in low turnout, non-presidential years. Pay attention folks, don't let your local wingnuts have a field day.

    The free market is not the solution, the free market is the problem.

    by Azazello on Sun Jun 30, 2013 at 07:01:38 PM PDT

    •  Alas, the draconian abortion measures (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Oh Mary Oh, glitterscale, TexMex, Odysseus, 1BQ

      just became law in Ohio a few hours ago.

      We can't flip the legislature, but we can elect Ed FitzGerald governor to stop the extremist crap.

      Almost every seat in out legislature is a safe seat. I know a lot of people running, but they are mostly going for seats someone else is term-limited out of. The former editor of my blog, who ran for state legislature from a GOP-leaning district and lost last time, is running again though. His campaign is already underway.

      In addition, up here in Northeast Ohio, we are looking at primarying a couple of Democrats from the legislature. They have voted with Republicans on some key issues and given that the Republicans hold an outsized veto-proof majority in both houses now and that Tea Party extremists are running wil there, we cannot afford a single turncoat. It appears the challengers will be two strong, excellent women I know, so I am excited about this.

      Ed FitzGerald for governor Of Ohio. Women's lives depend on it. http://www.edfitzgeraldforohio.com/

      by anastasia p on Sun Jun 30, 2013 at 08:06:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Please tell me that you will actually assign (15+ / 0-)

    your students to:

    . . . establish a database of state legislative races . . . in order to winnow the field down to a more reasonable number and keep our community (particularly the DKE community) appraised of what is going on in those races.
    ;)

    Seriously, I couldn't agree with you more. We should pay much more attention to state legislative races. Primarily, we need to have a farm team. And as we see in Texas (or the large number of other states where Medicaid expansion is on the ropes), it is always good to have people who agree with you on the issues that matter in as many offices as possible.

    The same reasoning applies to statewide offices other than governor, which we can sometimes overlook. (Shameless, I know.)

    Ok, so I read the polls.

    by andgarden on Sun Jun 30, 2013 at 07:02:58 PM PDT

  •  Yes!!!! (12+ / 0-)

    This is where the real battles over voting rights will take place for the next few years. We need to take control of as many state legislatures as possible.
    Combine "Got ID" efforts with investments in state-level elections and we won't have to worry about the White House after a few cycles - the GOP will be a tiny minority of the electorate.

  •  Yes! Great post Steve S. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matt Z, glitterscale, elfling

    There have to be more Wendy Davis's out there.  They need to let their light shine.  Fund them.

    In the time it took Adam Lanza to reload, eleven children escaped. What if...

    by Sixty Something on Sun Jun 30, 2013 at 07:08:54 PM PDT

  •  Good diary, but what a sad, sad comment on our (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, Matt Z, Simplify, glitterscale

    corrupted society that political office has to be purchased.

    I wish we had instant runoff voting and that elections only lasted three weeks.  Now they last three years.  It gets old.

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Sun Jun 30, 2013 at 07:10:59 PM PDT

  •  Great post! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Glenn Magus Harvey
  •  This is excellent advice (8+ / 0-)

    Two further thoughts:

    - focus on local and state governments ju-jitsu's the Tea Party's main arguments.  They argue for state and local control - well, let's give it to them with Democratic controlled bodies!

    - in the wake of the Voting Rights decision, redistricting (which is in the hands of state legislatures generally) at both the federal and state levels will become even more crucial.  Without a Section 5 bar to hold them back, the right will run wild unless they are contested.

    Glad to see a diary like this.  It should have more recommendations.  

    "Hidden in the idea of radical openness is an allegiance to machines instead of people." - Jaron Lanier

    by FDRDemocrat on Sun Jun 30, 2013 at 07:12:34 PM PDT

  •  Respect for state progress would be fucking nice. (12+ / 0-)

    I live in WA state and we just legalized gay marriage and recreational pot, we continue to have the highest minimum wage in the country and we've had an 8% profit cap on private insurance AND a public option for YEARS.

    But I come here on Daily Kos and talk about being okay with compromise and baby steps toward progress and being respectful instead of confrontational and aggressive and I get lectured by REAL liberals about not having any principles and being an evil moderate.

    It's funny though.  THEIR state doesn't have ANY of the progress that MY state has.  They just TALK tough, but have NOTHING to show for their talk.  And yet they STILL lecture me.  

    It would be good to have more awareness of what goes on at state levels, if only to see who the hell is actually succeeding and learn from it.

    Plus, maybe it could give some hope to the group of doomsayers who keep trying to convince everyone that America is going to shit.  Cause, it's not.  Maybe their shitty state is going to shit, but my state is kicking ass!

  •  therun2016.com seems silly (0+ / 0-)

    70% chance Santorum will run? Oh c'mon, he just took a job as a film producer.

    Take the fight to them. Don't let them bring it to you. - Harry S Truman

    by jgoodfri on Sun Jun 30, 2013 at 07:21:24 PM PDT

  •  One can not understate the disaster that was 2010 (14+ / 0-)

    GOPers winning all those statehouses and thus being in a position to gerrymander the fuck out of everything is the reason that we still have a GOP House of assholes even after the Democrats won the popular vote in 2012. Of course, beyond that, there has been an avalanche of vile and despicable state legislation, from blocking Obamacare to anti-abortion legislation forcing women to be raped with an ultrasound probe.

    The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness. -- John Kenneth Galbraith

    by richardak on Sun Jun 30, 2013 at 07:21:27 PM PDT

  •  State legislatures have the power to (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gygaxian, AnnieJo, glitterscale

    gerrymander the living shit out of their congressional districts. They control -- in effect -- which voters are allowed any choice in the election of the House.

    Until we can kill the gerrymander monster forever, we need to take over the state legislatures, one by one. But the bar is a high one, since the state legislative districts themselves are gerrymandered. In effect, we have allowed the bastards to elect themselves.

    As Rachel has often pointed out, states like Michigan have been "cleansed" of all vestiges of democratic government.

    Note to Boehner and McConnell: "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows." --Bob Dylan-- (-7.25, -6.21)

    by Tim DeLaney on Sun Jun 30, 2013 at 07:22:15 PM PDT

  •  Hmmm... there was this guy who advocated (7+ / 0-)

    a 50 state strategy.

    Who was it?  Oh yeah, Howard Dean.

    Of course we need to pay attention to the State races.  Right now, the single biggest impact on what gets done is Congress, and it all changed in 2010.

    Since then, we've gotten a raw mess.  That lesson should be plenty for anybody interested in Progressive legislation.

    Not only do we need to focus on these races, but where possible, impact them toward the Progressives.  

    We need a majority, and after that we need a party that actually is better at working for us.

    ***Be Excellent To One Another***
    IF THEY ARE GOING TO SCREW THE PEOPLE, MAKE THEM OWN IT.

    by potatohead on Sun Jun 30, 2013 at 07:23:30 PM PDT

  •  She did really well on the talking head shows (0+ / 0-)

    this morning. She looks like she is ready for prime time. I hope she goes for it. She was very good this morning.

    " The whole world is about three drinks behind" Humphrey Bogart.

    by flatford39 on Sun Jun 30, 2013 at 07:28:22 PM PDT

    •  Did you think so? (0+ / 0-)

      I was actually hoping she would do better. I read some of her statements in transcript before watching the recorded interviews, and was disappointed in the presentation. It was not as forceful or impassioned as I had imagined reading the words.

    •  Mr. Scribe is ready (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      glitterscale

      to break the family budget for her -- I've been burned a bit by candidates so I'm holding back just a bit, but he'll probably talk me into it.

      There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

      by Cali Scribe on Sun Jun 30, 2013 at 08:12:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Pushing Sen. Wendy Davis for the TX governor (0+ / 0-)

      position is a major strategic error (sry Markos and the rest of y'all).

      The position barely rises above figurehead status, it would be a very expensive race (most of y'all have NFI how big Texas i$), it's biking up an extremely steep hill in what will be a very hot climate (the RWingnuts are revving it up like you wouldn't believe now); a victory is quite unlikely there (says the observant cynic in me).

      In short, the wrong race, wrong battle.

      This is the right one:
      Ensure Wendy gets re-elected to the Texas Senate next year (or a safe US House seat?), and then prep her for the race for US President in 2016.
      She has everything we need in way of talent, intelligence, ability, charisma, and political experience
      (assuming no skeletons).
      Lacking national heft, organization? Answer: One G. W. Bush, former TX Guv, 'nuff said.

      Clinton is a spent force, and I don't see anyone else out there to win 2016. I'd vote for her if the Reptiles ran JFC hisself (but they won't), but many won't out of apathy or animosity, she's been damaged too much.
      How many of y'all really want a future Preznit Rubio, Cruz, Huckleberry, Paul, Perry, or even ol' megabucks returning-- rMoney; and winning then?

      We need somebody electrifying to reinvigorate the Democratic Party.
      Who better than TX Sen. Wendy Davis?
      Show me anyone better suited?

      We’re Ready, Wendy’s Ready! WTF Are We Waiting For? Bring ‘em on! The revolution has begun! Come and take it!

      by Bluefin on Sun Jun 30, 2013 at 08:46:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for the reminder (3+ / 0-)

    We're still suffering heartburn from the 2010 state lege races (TX, WI, MI, ...)

    Those guys do state and federal legislative redistricting, voter reg laws, ...

    I don't think my personal attention span encompasses all 50 states, but we need, somehow, to be paying attention.

    I was standing on the Senate floor, and the sound of democracy was nearly deafening. -- Cecile Richards

    by rsmpdx on Sun Jun 30, 2013 at 07:44:04 PM PDT

  •  Lotsa good state education planned for (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    helpImdrowning

    Monday in Austin.

    Win or lose on the women's health bills, it's a teachable moment!

    For example:

    2PM – 3PM: Civic Engagement presentations – Legislative Conference Center on level E2 (LCC – room where all the food was last week)

    Topics of the presentations:

        Texas Legislature 101
        Democratic Participation and the Significance of Voting
        Amplifying Millennial Power in Texas

    2PM – 3PM: Reproductive Justice and Women’s Health presentations – Auditorium on level E1

    Topics of the presentations:

        Not Turning the Clock Back: Your Rights Through History
        Reproductive Justice and the Provider Perspective
        Health Center Advocacy and Community Engagement

    2:30PM: Become a voter registrar! Voter Deputization hosted by Battleground Texas - Ned Granger Building, 314 West 11th Street (at Guadalupe)

    3:30PM:  “Staying Engaged: What’s Next?” – Legislative Conference Center on level E2 (LCC)

    Stations for the following activities:

        write a letter to your Representative or Senator
        write a letter to the editor
        sign a thank you card for women’s health champions
        sign up and learn more about organizing in-district events, phone banks and house parties)

    Full update from Jessica W. Luther.

    I was standing on the Senate floor, and the sound of democracy was nearly deafening. -- Cecile Richards

    by rsmpdx on Sun Jun 30, 2013 at 07:49:38 PM PDT

  •  need a map interface with blogs bellow (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rsmpdx, norabb, Odysseus

    some sort of enormous clearing house for down ticket races with a geographic front end. This got discussed among some techies on a different site after 2010 but no one jumped on it. If any site could do it it's the mighty DailyKos.

    For the tech heads - my take is just a state zoomable map and then an endless pile of wordpress installs (not a fan but easy) and some people vetting local administrators for each blog. Any techs out there interested in batting this around?

    If you didn't like the news today, go out and make some of your own.

    by jgnyc on Sun Jun 30, 2013 at 07:52:05 PM PDT

  •  Citizens United:why we need to hold legislatures (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Christopher Walker

    I don't know if anyone's mentioned this, but if we are going to eliminate Citizen's United, it won't be through the Congress or through the Roberts Court. The best way is through Constitutional Amendment, and the only practical way to do that is to hold the requisite number of state legislatures.  

  •  I start with the local school board and then city (3+ / 0-)

    council. It's sad that I am often the only one asking questions when the candidates for school board hold their meet and greet sessions.

    There are people who run the state legislature now who maybe could have been stopped at an even more local level.

    Tracy B Ann - technically that is my signature.

    by ZenTrainer on Sun Jun 30, 2013 at 08:03:31 PM PDT

  •  The established Dems (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LordMike, helpImdrowning, saluda, Odysseus

    deliberately undermined my state rep.  Too liberal for them she was, but even worse, in her first election she defeated the "next in line" machine Dem in the primary.  The next time around, the establishment primaried her again, and she won again, with her usual 60%.  In her third race, the Dem machine "got smart".  Instead of primarying her, they ran a well-known local lawyer of the predominant ethnic group in the district (Italian-American) as an "Independent" in the general.  He drew away enough support that the Republican eked out a 1000-vote victory, and immediately became the state liaison for ALEC.  Now he's rolling in cash and untouchable, Rosemary is washing her hands of politics, and what should have been a solid if unspectacular Dem seat with a solid liberal member for the long term is now locked up by the Rubes for the foreseeable future, all due to the egos of the Dem establishment.  

    "You may very well think so, I could not possibly comment." ~ Francis Urquhart, pragmatic political philosopher

    by ActivistGuy on Sun Jun 30, 2013 at 08:03:33 PM PDT

  •  Some of us who work local (4+ / 0-)

    and I mean in the trenches county local, in newly or barely purple states, could use more organizing help. Many of our Democratic committee leaders are clueless, and candidate selection is haphazard. Our county committee is a joke.

    A new focus on the local should be possible with the Obama lists and some money, but it's going to be a hard struggle when the bottom-up organization was neglected for so long. Those right wingers do turn out their foot soldiers reliably.

    I don't expect Virginia to be excited about McAuliffe, he's a Warner wanna be as far as most people here are concerned, and he doesn't have the Clinton aura. Someone needs to find him a solid basis for his campaign,  because in parts of Virginia "not a Republican" will not take him very far. But otherwise I think we have a good ticket. I know and like Mark Herring for AG very much for example.

  •  One villian in that Texas Senate filibuster was my (5+ / 0-)

    "own" representative to the Texas Senate, Donna Campbell.  She was the one who objected that Wendy Davis had gone off-topic in her filibuster.  The Texas Senate rules apparently say that anything in a filibuster must be "germane."  What was the allegedly non-germane stuff?  It was discussing what burdens would be added for a woman seeking an abortion to the barrier created last session, requiring a transvaginal ultrasound at least 24 hours prior to the procedure.  (The proposed new requirement, which would have made the woman check back the day after the procedure was presumably germane, but talking about the hurdle they put up last session was ruled non-germane.  Ruled by whom?  First by the Republican Lieutenant Governor, and then after it was challenged, by a Republican majority vote of the Senate.)

    Donna Campbell beat out a long-serving moderate (especially for Texas) Republican in the 2012 primary, and coasted into office in the general election.  
    Here's her campaign website   http://www.donnacampbell.com/
    Here's the web site the Texas Senate gives her:
    http://www.senate.state.tx.us/...

    I deeply resent being "represented" by this person in the Texas Senate.  I hope you will put both her run for reelection in the primary and in the general on your radar.

    We're all pretty strange one way or another; some of us just hide it better. "Normal" is a dryer setting.

    by david78209 on Sun Jun 30, 2013 at 08:05:08 PM PDT

  •  Agree absolutely (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    highacidity, Christopher Walker

    This can't be said enough.  Please continue to post major diaries on the topic.  These states like Pennsylvania that can consider changing how they count their electoral votes - that's state legislatures. And the Cong. districts as mentioned.....argghh.

    The right wingers have been working diligently at the state level while we're looking the other way.  

  •  Virginia election 2013 (3+ / 0-)

    I forgot to mention the perfect opportunity for anyone living in VA, DC or MD to get involved in Virginia's election THIS YEAR!  Even if you don't love Terry McAuliffe, he needs to be elected Governor.  And coordinated campaigns should ensure that if you go out canvassing, you're also working to elect Democrats to the state legislature.

    so Mr. Singiser, I strongly recommend a bunch of diaries about the VA election, which enters the hot and heavy stage very soon, get some of these daily kos readers to get out there and knock on some doors.

  •  Please stop using this pic of Wendy! (0+ / 0-)

    Who was the last President that we all watched sitting and reading to children?  President Bush during a terrible disaster that we felt he was incompetent to deal with!  Use anything but this pic if you want her to look like a competent person...please!

  •  Check out the United States of ALEC.Holy shit! n/t (0+ / 0-)
  •  can't say enough good (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    highacidity, helpImdrowning

    glad to see an interest in pushing further into local issues. We still haven't figured out how to do it, but the internet does create the potential for sharing on legislation and elections and actions in every jurisdiction in the country.

    But how to winnow things out? That is the big question and I'm glad to see you take it on. (And I won't get mad if it is not done in this election cycle.)

    The first election I really got involved in was for county clerk, and I still hold that office up as the gateway for democracy. Even on the local level, Dems tend to focus on city council and county commissioner, we don't get very excited about other offices and it shows: everything else but county assessor is held by Repubs.

    My vision is one where Dems run full slates of candidates at every level (wouldn't that be nice) and each candidate is a connection to individual voters. (This would include ballot issues, too.) Hopefully, voters would get at least interested in a few candidates and be motivated to vote every cycle.

  •  Build locally (3+ / 0-)

    Yes, we need to build locally. The higher up reps come from the local ones.  Local reps can build progressive policies for our towns.

  •  Yes, yes and yes! We need a local/state focus! (3+ / 0-)

    It's where most candidates for higher office are made, and even in red states, it's where policy can be affected by the public.

    I know I get ridiculed for my focus (obsession, really) on Utah politics, but I firmly believe that being a state legislature watcher will help me have a better knowledge of the political context here, and that even though we won't turn the state blue anytime soon, we can win in certain places if we just try.

    I agree with red moon dog on this:

    My vision is one where Dems run full slates of candidates at every level (wouldn't that be nice) and each candidate is a connection to individual voters. (This would include ballot issues, too.) Hopefully, voters would get at least interested in a few candidates and be motivated to vote every cycle.
    My state didn't even have Democratic opposition in 2012 for at least 1/3 of the legislature seats. I dearly want to help my state pull itself away from the madness of far-rightism. If we had help, any help at all, we could at least defeat the 2/3s majority that the GOP has in both state houses. But there has to be focus and support on state races first.

    Leftist Mormon in Utah, Born in Washington State, live in UT-04 (Matheson).

    by Gygaxian on Sun Jun 30, 2013 at 09:19:19 PM PDT

  •  If we have a database of legislative seats (4+ / 0-)

    then I have to think we would have an immediate data advantage over the Republicans. I suggest contacting the DLCC in case they've already done this. Also scour state-focused blogs in case they've already done this for their state.

  •  Not to mention (3+ / 0-)

    statewide downballot offices.  We only really focus on the Governor's mansion here, but those statewide downballots can be pretty important.

    For example, imagine the reaction to the Supreme Court's VRA decision if Texas (or a swath of other states) had a Democratic AG.

    29, white male, TX-07 (current), TN-09 (born), TN-08 (where parents live now)

    by TDDVandy on Sun Jun 30, 2013 at 09:33:41 PM PDT

  •  Hallelujah! This is a great idea. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    helpImdrowning

    We must, indeed, all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately. B. Franklin

    by Observerinvancouver on Sun Jun 30, 2013 at 09:34:14 PM PDT

  •  The Rhode Island story (8+ / 0-)

    I live in Rhode Island, so I completely agree.  Here we have a very, very liberal electorate but a legislature that is quite a bit more conservative than your average red state legislature.  

    We've enacted a fairly comprehensive range of right-wing policies: a voter ID law, enormous tax cuts for the rich, deep cuts to pensions, very regressive tax hikes, severe cuts to social services, etc.  

    Labor's biggest victory in 2012 was electing someone who introduced a bill to throw families off welfare if their kids have low school attendance records.  That's what passes for liberal here.

    On gun safety, despite a populace that favors an assault weapons ban by a 37-point margin, the strongest gun control law we could pass was a commission to study whether maybe we ought to report our background checks to the national system.

    On choice, we do have a pro-choice governor and a nominally pro-choice speaker, but the majority of the legislature is anti-choice.

    This is really easy to fix.  Rhode Island races rarely break $50,000.  The gap between the legislature and the people is far larger than in any other state.  The fundamentals are incredible.  A very small amount of national interest could easily fix things.  I would love to see the DKE community get involved in some of our races.

  •  Great to see this diary! Your points are (0+ / 0-)

    excellent and timely. There is so much that can be done, and needs to be done, at the local/state level. We cannot let the conservatives continue installing their despicable agenda at the state level. We need to yank these folks out at the root, so to speak. Thank you for this.

    "Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy -7.8., -6.6

    by helpImdrowning on Sun Jun 30, 2013 at 09:51:11 PM PDT

  •  The theocrats, labeling them right wing is (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    saluda, Glenn Magus Harvey

    redundant and contextually sloppy, constructed and executed a carefully thought out plan. They started at the municipal level and worked their ways up.  They knew what they were doing, they have advantages over people who are not in tightly organized and closely adhering groups, they persisted because they believed, they supported believers with all the social caring that tiime and energy consuming action requires:  they take care of one another, one another's family responsibilities.  That coherence and tight group behavior gives them power way beyond their numbers.  It's the Roman phalanx in politics and it overwhelms more loosely, often individually organized opposition.  They are NOT democratic and they make no pretences about democracy or majority rule.  Their means are always justified by their ends.  They are in politics to impose their beliefs and behavior systems on everyone.  Dictatorial, tyrannical.  They enjoy power over, it validates their belief in God's mandate.

    At the least, know your enemy, because they are that for by far most people:

    http://www.theocracywatch.org/

    “The road to success is always under construction” --Lily Tomlin

    by CarolinNJ on Sun Jun 30, 2013 at 10:14:48 PM PDT

    •  "They are NOT democratic and they make no pretense (0+ / 0-)

      s"

      Yep, basically, to some of these people, the political system is a set of rules by which to play a game in order to advance their agenda and defeat their enemies.

      Their justification is usually the assumption that everyone else is doing the same thing (or at least ought to be).  The result of this assumption is basically a state of endless political war, of course.  Rather than any policy solutions.

  •  here's a great example from here in B'ham (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    saluda, Glenn Magus Harvey

    http://www.nationaljournal.com/...
    The Obscure County Election That Could Change the Planet

    A little-watched race in Washington state will determine how America uses its coal—and the future of the global climate.

    Whatcom County sits at the northwest tip of the continental United States, a pine-fringed strip of 2,100 square miles in Washington state near where Canada meets the Pacific Ocean. Whatcom’s biggest claim to fame until now was as the nation’s top raspberry producer. But this year, a local election—the race for four seats on the Whatcom County Councilis shaping up to have a profound national, even global, impact. The outcome could affect the U.S. coal industry, trade relations with China, and the planet’s changing climate.

    Already, the county race is on the radar of the coal industry, which campaigned against President Obama in 2012 on the charge that he’s waged a “war on coal,” and of national advocacy groups such as the League of Conservation Voters, which spent $14 million nationally to influence the 2012 elections.

    “This is a smallish, local election, but the decisions this council will make over the next year or two will have sweeping implications for climate and energy around the world,”
    says Brendon Cechovik, executive director of the Washington state League of Conservation Voters, which is campaigning in support of four council candidates, and against two.

    Just north of the Whatcom County city of Bellingham is the site of a proposed $600 million port, the Gateway Pacific Terminal, which, if constructed, would ship 48 million tons of coal annually from Wyoming and Montana to Asia—enough to power 15 to 20 new coal-fired power plants a year. Its fate will be decided at a moment when the coal industry is facing a reckoning. Fears about climate change are on the rise. Earlier this month, scientists sounded the alarm as atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide reached 400 parts per million, the highest level recorded in human history. The greenhouse gases produced by coal-powered electricity are the world’s worst contributor to global warming.

    Here's the crunch...
    But, ultimately, it’s not up to the coal industry, green groups, or SSA Marine, the Seattle company that hopes to build the terminal, to decide what happens. That’s where the Whatcom County Council comes in. Over the next two years, the seven-member board will play an outsized role in Gateway’s fate, voting on two crucial siting permits which, if approved, will pave the way for the terminal’s construction. If the council rejects the permits, it could freeze the project for years, if not permanently. This November, voters will determine the makeup of the council that will make those crucial permit decisions, electing four of the seven members.
    But here’s the kind of Twin Peaks twist you find only in local politics: The council is designated as a “semi-judicial” body, a sort of mini-court. That means candidates can’t disclose whether they would vote for or against the terminal, leaving voters in the dark about whom to support.
    “This issue is on everyone’s lips, and passions … are running high,” says Michael Lilliquist, a city council member in Bellingham. “But even the candidates who have a clear opinion about it can’t say what they think.” Lilliquist, who vehemently opposes the terminal, says the way for voters like him to figure out how candidates stand will be by listening to buzzwords—and their own gut. “We have to listen to how they convey their value system, their political and philosophical touchstones. You have to kind of decode it. Do they talk about prosperity … and jobs? Do they talk about sustainability and climate change?... You have to intuit.”
    THIS sums it up...
    The industry needs Whatcom County voters: If the council rejects the Gateway permits, the company will have a tough time finding another West Coast site. Already this year, environmental protests have delayed and frozen plans to build much smaller coal-export terminals nearby. Export advocates know they have their work cut out for them. “It’s a lightning-rod issue,” Hennessey says. “No one has lukewarm feelings about this.”
    (emphasis mine)

    The other side (pro coal) has the money but we got the people, I went to almost every public hearing and they only got bigger to the point that the finale in Seattle had to be moved to the convention center. (The first was in a High School here in Bellingham).

    without the ants the rainforest dies

    by aliasalias on Sun Jun 30, 2013 at 10:31:17 PM PDT

  •  An exclamation point on this (0+ / 0-)

    The Republican-controlled Washington Senate just killed the long-planned Columbia River Crossing project. Story here.

    Gov. Inslee is obviously not great shakes as a manager -- he's seemed in over his head from Day 1 -- but as the example of the other Washington (D.C.) shows us, it's not much use being an awesome executive if your legislative branch won't play ball with you on anything.

  •  Yes. Yes. Yes. n/t (0+ / 0-)

    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 04:33:30 AM PDT

  •  We know all of our state Senators and Reps. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Glenn Magus Harvey

    here in West Palm Beach. All of them send out PDFs like this one from Mark Pafford and you can sign up to receive them if you go to their web sites.

    REMINDER: Rep. Pafford to Host Town Hall Meeting - May 30, 2013.
    Then go to the meetings and introduce yourselves. After you attend a few meetings the Reps. will remember who you are and you can speak to them one on one.

    Our Democratic Clubs and our Democratic Election Committee have meetings every month and invite our Dem. Reps. to come fill us in on the latest efforts of the Republican controlled State Legislature: limiting the damage they are trying to do re. voting is a big priority.

    On the voter registration card it tells you which districts you are in for both State and Federal Elections: many people did not know how to find out that information when we started canvassing for the 2008 Presidential race: so they didn't know who their Reps. were or for whom to vote in that election.

    I know this sounds like very basic stuff, but you'd be surprised at how many people only pay attention to the big races and completely ignore the smaller ones. That's how we ended up with Rick Scott as our Governor: once they get a foot in the door, it is very hard to dislodge them.

    But it can be done - we said bye bye to Allen West.

  •  Well I've republished this to state and local (3+ / 0-)

    action group which has existed here on Dkos since the DK4.

    If anyone is interested in becoming an editor, please message me. This would allow you to republish state and local diaries to the group queue for the 300-or so kossacks who are waiting for state and local action info.

    Also in case you didn't know. I've done this(official launch is today in fact) which is devoted exclusively to electing dems and advancing progressive causes at the state and local levels.

    State and local make the most sense to my thinking. Let's get it done.

  •  RW radio is very effective on the local level (0+ / 0-)

    the think tanks can plan ahead or respond quickly, and specifically target local issues for free advertising and propaganda work on behalf of the GOP/1%. they have total use of many of the loudest radio stations in the country. they can lie without being corrected and use paid callers to prompt and suggest rumors, etc.

    the think tank pros can design PR campaigns to distort and swiftboat and while large numbers of progressive activists might work for weeks and months on an issue all the right has to do is feed a few blowhards with big microphones with talking points, lies, distortions, and swiftboating to motivate the exact same bunch of tea party/ dittoheads they always use. with those loud community soapboxes they intimidate and enable politicians and media to an extent much more significant than their actual numbers.

    politicians and media know/feel what is being blasted from the loudest radio stations in their states. it is acceptable and effective because the left does not recognize this dominant US political dynamic.

    they're going to win issues, elect more radicals, eject moderate republicans and progressive dems from primaries, and the left has no way of knowing how and how much they're attacking their candidates and distorting their issues, and have no response.

    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and GOP lies by broadcasting sports on over 170 Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 08:14:49 AM PDT

  •  Support for underdogs is needed (2+ / 0-)

    Sorry in advance if this is too long....

    One of the things that helped get Dems and Obama elected in 2006 and 2008 is Howard Dean's 50-state strategy. By not ceding a territory deemed too hard, we picked up seats in places not previously considered competitive (like Montana). We have the same problem on the state level.

    I am a sitting city council member in Ohio for 10+years. My county (and district) are very, very red. I am certain my success to date has been because council races are nonpartisan.

    I ran for State Rep in the last two cycles (although two different districts due to boundary changes). It is almost impossible to raise money to be competitive in a district that is so red. People like to back winners, not also-rans. It's also tough getting volunteers who would rather work on a statewide candidate's team with a better chance of winning. We also rarely have a candidate with name recognition.

    Although I realize that picking off the low-hanging fruit is going to be the most successful, we need to push our message into the deep red areas too. With gerrymandering what it is (especially in Ohio), it is our only hope for the next 10 years.

    Please get involved with your local candidates. Help people get elected to city/school board/township levels... Help on a state assembly campaign... volunteer at the local headquarters... especially if you are in a red district.

  •  one more point (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Glenn Magus Harvey

    In addition to being comparatively cheap, it's important to note that many state legislative races can be fought at a "retail politics" level.  My state delegates come to our community association meetings, etc. and sometimes even campaign door-to-door.  A genuine decent human being has a better chance to win against a scumbag in this scenario, rather than depending on TV commercials and corporate media coverage.  Not that you still don't need a good warchest, but looking a constituent in the eye and shaking their hand still means something at this level.

    "Can't kill hope with a gun...."--Pete and Maura Kennedy

    by Io Giordano on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 10:18:44 AM PDT

  •  I have just done a diary showing all (I hope) (0+ / 0-)

    of the DKE diaries on the State Legislatures...

    Looking forward to this being a big focus for this year !

    Acting Assistant Vice Chair of the DKE international cheer squad - Absent for a few months. Got me a woman and a house now. New comments is [back]... Mark Sanford is what now ? sawolf is Stephen Wolf, & DKE have all the pres results... First!

    by CF of Aus on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 01:39:09 AM PDT

  •  Woops (0+ / 0-)

    Here is the link to my new diary.

    Acting Assistant Vice Chair of the DKE international cheer squad - Absent for a few months. Got me a woman and a house now. New comments is [back]... Mark Sanford is what now ? sawolf is Stephen Wolf, & DKE have all the pres results... First!

    by CF of Aus on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 01:40:02 AM PDT

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