Skip to main content

When you think of red states and red districts, especially in the south, the “conventional wisdom” has been that competing there is a lost cause; that the GOP's stronghold there is impermeable. But a new resurgence is becoming apparent and liberals in the south want you to know about it.

I interviewed Aaron Wazlavek the newly appointed Executive Director of the Northwest Florida Labor Federation, George Fisher, North Carolina political media consultant, and Kossack Jeana Brown, founder of Team Rural about this trend.

Cross-posted to Bold Blue Magazine

This week, the Northwest Florida Federation of Labor Executive Board has hired its first ever executive director - Panama City native Aaron Wazlavek. That's the Florida panhandle affectionately known by Floridians as “Lower Alabama or LA”.

“There is a renaissance of Labor happening right now in the South,” says Wazlavek. “The Labor movement represents all workers – regardless of being in a Union or not – we are seeing serious traction in the community with non-partisan issues like a living wage, wage theft, worksite organizing, and immigration reform. What we are seeing now is a return to normalcy in the Panhandle after the wave of Tea Party insurgency.”

Wazlavek's on-the-ground observations are not unique. George Fisher, a North Carolina political media consultant said in an interview with Bold Blue Magazine that the Moral Monday movement has attracted the attention of some Republicans in the state and others who are not liberals; that it is eroding support for the types of policies Republicans in the state legislature have embraced since taking control in 2010. “I've spoken with conservatives who tell me they support the movement,” says Fisher, a regular attendee of the Moral Monday protests. “ What we're seeing is people asking themselves, 'Where does my political ideology end and my morality begin?' These are not Democratic or Republican issues anymore.”

Wazlavek says his first action as the new executive director will be making contact with local, state, and national unions to begin the dialogue of shoring up the organizing staff needed to turn the Panhandle into a pro-Labor area. “We have serious ground game to cover in terms of the upcoming electoral cycle, with six currently endorsed candidates,” says Wazlavek, “but already we have been reaching out to various Labor leaders across the South to see if they would like to participate using our new organizing model, the Interstate Regional Organizing Committee (IROC). The response has been a resounding “YES!” when asked if they would like to participate.”

The south doesn't seem to be backing down from a fight with the GOP and as a result, they're making local, state and federal races competitive, often catching somnolent Republicans off guard.


“Well, we're fired up down here in the south,” says Jeana Brown, the Founder of Team Rural, a progressive campaign firm serving Democrats running in rural districts. “The issues are what's allowing us to make a case for progressive policy. Wages, wage theft, healthcare...these are quality of life issues that appeal to everybody, especially in the south where wages are depressed because of years of Republican dominance. But we're breaking through now. Candidates are talking about these issues and the Republicans don't really have a way to defend their positions. As a result, there are a lot of people who don't call themselves liberals who are listening to what Democrats are saying.”

Brown says that she's seeing this trend happening in other states across the south such as in Georgia, Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas. Issues of work, wages and health care and even immigration are creating an opportunity for coalition building.

“What we’re trying to do is present a united front of non-partisan groups that agree on one core value: all labor is valuable,” says Wazlavek. “We've got both sides of the aisle now showing back up for their local union meetings. We're changing the stereotype locally that unions are for one party or the other. One day we'll probably see a pro-Labor conservative politician from the area.”

But for now, those pro-Labor politicians are all Democrats. Republicans in the south have been caught completely off guard. With strong, populist messages about jobs, wages, health care and immigration, liberals are breaking through the traditionally rigid partisan ideologies and making a host of political races competitive – many for the very first time.


Madison Paige (aka mdmslle) is publisher of Bold Blue Magazine and co-founder of Bold Blue Media Alliance, Inc., a grassroots-supported Democratic campaign training and services firm dedicated to strengthening state and local Democratic candidates and progressive cause campaigns. Bold Blue Magazine is more than a magazine, it’s a movement. Your subscription to Bold Blue Magazine makes expert training and services available to state and local democratic candidates and progressive causes at ridiculously affordable prices. If state and local matter you, JOIN THE MOVEMENT.

Originally posted to mdmslle on Sun Jun 22, 2014 at 07:57 AM PDT.

Also republished by State & Local ACTION Group, Knowledge Democrats, Southern Liberal Living DK Version, and Hellraisers Journal.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Meteor Blades, Bob Johnson, claude, bink, Thumb, Alumbrados, paradox, Angie in WA State, Mimikatz, Garrett, Terri, coral, From the choir, LeislerNYC, Val, Phoenix Woman, Radiowalla, Odysseus, decisivemoment, ferg, copymark, teacherken, texaseditor, kaleidescope, Gooserock, Pandora, mimi, PeterHug, RunawayRose, Emerson, karlpk, DR RD, Fabienne, Pescadero Bill, Wintermute, Andrew C White, ChicDemago, cotterperson, eeff, dsb, movie buff, Sandy on Signal, blksista, Carolina On My Mind, Bryce in Seattle, gjohnsit, Matilda, Ahianne, MarkInSanFran, Creosote, JLFinch, onig, missLotus, theRoaringGirl, Wee Mama, magnetics, annrose, whenwego, ask, CoolOnion, boadicea, themank, ivote2004, vmckimmey, corncam, Nate Roberts, fumie, splashy, Cedwyn, artebella, sidnora, dksbook, aitchdee, tomephil, psnyder, Nag, TexDem, Dallasdoc, figbash, texasmom, HeyMikey, wdrath, niteskolar, DSC on the Plateau, Steven Payne, Sychotic1, defluxion10, Catte Nappe, papercut, lcrp, BlogDog, Brian82, stringer bell, Chris Reeves, Major Kong, zerelda, ybruti, Sembtex, KayCeSF, tomjones, poemworld, Josiah Bartlett, sebastianguy99, Armand451, Gowrie Gal, Recovering Southern Baptist, historys mysteries, radarlady, Tinfoil Hat, NoMoreLies, subtropolis, mjd in florida, Chinton, kamarvt, viral, Laurence Lewis, fixxit, owlbear1, PSzymeczek, Sun Tzu, Inland, quaoar, Ice Blue, Little Lulu, blue jersey mom, ivorybill, sunbro, illinifan17, Tool, Tunk, Savvy813, Shotput8, FindingMyVoice, sodalis, peacestpete, mightymouse, xaxnar, Jim R, Jim P, begone, RJDixon74135, MadGeorgiaDem, martini, third Party please, Clytemnestra, BlueInARedState, Kimball Cross, Wary, arlene, Lefty Coaster, NBBooks, global citizen, erratic, philipmerrill, Rosaura, NCJan, Libby Shaw, Preston S, MarciaJ720, middleagedhousewife, onionjim, BlueMississippi, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, Compostings, Statusquomustgo, NancyWH, bstotts, slksfca, AllanTBG, Pandoras Box, krwheaton, One Pissed Off Liberal, Msanger, timewarp, hooper, anotherdemocrat, Habitat Vic, hawaii2, Loudoun County Dem, camlbacker, Debs2, ColoTim, offgrid, yoduuuh do or do not, karmsy, Wino, Duccio, la urracca, Matt Z, Dave in Northridge, shesaid, deepeco, eOz, Unbozo, bnasley, HCKAD, getlost, Oreo, Bridge Master, gchaucer2, leonard145b, Brahman Colorado, TDDVandy, JML9999, vet, TomP, Empower Ink, cville townie, djsands, JDWolverton, thankgodforairamerica, misterwade, BobBlueMass, JaxDem, Phil N DeBlanc, wayoutinthestix, Marko the Werelynx, OleHippieChick, mamamedusa, Sixty Something, Youffraita, NewDealer, bythesea, elwior, skohayes, wade norris, CDH in Brooklyn, lineatus, tofumagoo, pamelabrown, hwmnbn, pickandshovel, Jeff Y, catly, Gemina13, get the red out, Al Fondy, Karen Hedwig Backman, JamieG from Md, Mayfly, dmhlt 66, sydneyluv, cactusflinthead, shortgirl, statsone, 207wickedgood, maggiejean, Sun dog, prettygirlxoxoxo, enemy of the people, Zorge, LeftOfYou, Pale Jenova, indres, mkor7, mHainds, petral, deedogg, MooseHB, Denise Oliver Velez, kevinpdx, Shelley99, Munchkn, sfarkash, Flyswatterbanjo, rebel ga, Leftcandid, nocynicism, Just Bob, hotdamn, dopeydiddledocks, Its the Supreme Court Stupid, commonmass, parse this, Mokurai, p gorden lippy, brunoboy, Susan Grigsby, kjoftherock, michelewln, Anima, Polly Syllabic, VickiL, Lost and Found, ATFILLINOIS, samanthab, pixxer, Puddytat, Kristina40, addisnana, Betty Pinson, Patate, science nerd, Oh Mary Oh, fiercefilms, soaglow, slice, theKgirls, Onomastic, annieli, snapples, kerflooey, Front Toward Enemy, ladywithafan, agrenadier, I love OCD, zooecium, ozsea1, Catherine R, Election Diary Rescue, ban nock, bgblcklab1, slowbutsure, StellaRay, La Gitane, Amayi, Possiamo, FarWestGirl, lillyspad, deeproots, EquityRoy, molunkusmol, boomerchick, Haf2Read, marleycat, zukesgirl64, susanala, AgavePup, Carolyn in Oregon, IllanoyGal, thomask, BarackStarObama, muddy boots, seattlebarb, tardis10, worldlotus, bywaterbob, MuskokaGord, peregrine kate, Calvino Partigiani, Liberal Mole, Imhotepsings, Vatexia, ratcityreprobate, SoCalSal, SteelerGrrl, leftykook, CoyoteMarti, caryltoo, PrometheusUnbound, No one gets out alive, BlueDragon, AnnetteK, Pinto Pony, nominalize, bluezen, Chrislove, Siri, charliehall2, IndieGuy, ahumbleopinion, Eric Nelson, midgebaker, AnnieR, Joieau, a2nite, Trotskyrepublican, congenitalefty, peachcreek, jan4insight, hardart, Arahahex, bewareofme, MartyM, Galtisalie, cuphalffull, Had Enough Right Wing BS, wxorknot, avsp, Victim of Circumstance, ItsaMathJoke, CitizenScientist, raina, T C Gibian, George3, wasatch, this just in, CalBearMom, Hammerhand, MarkW53, jusjtim35, Linda1961, JayRaye, poopdogcomedy, goodpractice, jeana brown, HedwigKos, unfangus, Aunt Pat, ggfkate, Jon Sitzman, helpImdrowning, Smoh, SmoovP, ET3117, MessagingMatters, librarisingnsf, Patango, duhban, mmcnary, martianexpatriate, OregonWetDog, starduster, skepticalcitizen, TheDuckManCometh, Rich Lyles, blugrlnrdst, richardvjohnson, eagleray, pierre9045, jbsoul, michaelhenderson, gnosticator, leoluminary, ginimck, ptressel, Richard Villiers, RhodeIslandAspie, LiberalLoner, JimValent, oldhippy48, hbk, RepresentUsPlease, jawillie, dcnblues, Zadatz, BMScott, ValkyrieValjean, Gunnar Thomas, NewRomeIsBurning, bobcat41702, Doctor Jazz, Ksolomon, jessbell911, Blackwolf53, Silencio, sevenfold, AWaz

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site