It would be a tragic error to think that this election is in the bag. This is going down to the wire, if not so much in the presidential races, then certainly in the down-ballot congressional races where progressives are working to flip "safe" red districts that aren't quite so safe any longer.
Why It's Worth Contributing To Candidates This Late In The Cycle
Credit: Nancy Ohanian
October 19, 2020

Millions of Americans have already voted.

By this past Friday evening 2,647,845 Texans had voted, 2,413,292 Floridians, 2,947,941 Californians, 1,397,929 Michiganders, 1,293,128 New Jerseyites, 1,333,860 Georgians, 1,248,886 North Carolinians, 1,213,480 Virginians, 911,385 Minnesotans...

In the states that report early voting with party registrations, 55.1% of the early votes were from registered Democrats and 23.8 were from registered Republicans. But it would be a tragic error to think that this election is in the bag. This is going down to the wire, if not so much in the presidential races, then certainly in the down-ballot congressional races where progressives are working to flip "safe" red districts that aren't quite so safe any longer.

It would be logical for a contributor to ask what campaigns can do, at this late moment, with a little more campaign money. So we asked some of the candidates endorsed by Blue America what exactly they plan to do with last minute ActBlue contributions. Their statements are below.

And to make it more interesting, the Blue America PAC has $3,500 to give to two candidates our members direct us to give it to-- $2,000 for one and $1,500 for another.

Goal ThermometerHow to decide? "Vote" by contributing to your favorite candidate by clicking on the thermometer on the right.

It opens a page and on that page-- on the right-- it says "customize amounts," which will allow you to pick the candidate you want us to send the $2,000 check.

The candidate who gets the most contributions gets the $2,000 check and the candidate who gets the second most gets the $1,500 check.

This is number of contributions, not amount. So if you give $10 and someone else gives $100, each counts as one vote.

Mike Siegel, one of the two Texas progressives we're trying to help flip a seat was the first one to respond to our question about how his campaign will use the late contributions. This is what he said:

"We are on the cusp of defeating one of the wealthiest, most powerful members of Congress, and he knows it. I’m running on a platform for Medicare for All and a Green New Deal, and supported by a powerful coalition of unions, Sunrise kids, local activists and national progressive leaders. We made over 500,000 voter contacts in September and are statistically tied as of the last poll. In response, McCaul is spending his family fortune, not only buying up TV ads from Houston to Austin, but advertising on every medium. Just this morning my kids were watching YouTube cartoons and told me they saw a 'Mike Siegel ad' that was really an attack piece. With additional support we will unleash our own wave of digital ads to make sure every voter knows what I’m fighting for, and what my corrupt opponent represents."

Julie Oliver is the other Texas progressive Blue America is backing and her district borders on Mike and her opponent is another multimillionaire Trump enabler. "We're running against one of the most corrupt members of Congress," she said, "in a gerrymandered district that the establishment didn't think was winnable. Nevertheless, we've pushed this district to a statistical tie, and without a single dime from any PAC we've been able to go toe-to-toe with an entrenched GOP incumbent, calling him out on his corruption, running a huge digital, TV, mail media plan as well as one of the most aggressive grassroots field programs in the entire country. If we can continue to get our message out there, we will win."

Liam O'Mara is running for a red-leaning Riverside County seat held by Corrupt Ken Calvert. "Why donate this late?," asked O'Mara. "Frankly, it's more important than ever. Our incumbent is running radio, television, mail, and Internet ads that mention me by name, lie about my ideals, and literally call me a terrorist! He's more nervous than he has been in decades, and we are hammering the phones to get those ballots turned in. We have our own advertising blitz under way, more signs than any Democrat has ever posted, and phonebanks running every day to keep people fired up and mailing in their votes. We also have radio ads ready to go, in both Spanish and English, and need only your contribution to get us onto enough stereos and put us over the top. Crooked Ken Calvert is already scared-- let's show him he had reason to be, and help him retire with all the indignity he deserves."

State Rep. Jon Hoadley is running in a swing district in southwest Michigan that looks like it it finally ready to end the congressional career of Trump puppet Fred Upton. "Our race in MI-06 has been on the receiving end of the  most homophobic attacks in the country. We can't let that be the only message they hear.  We know our message around healthcare and taking on the insurance companies is moving voters in a massive way. The problem in my race is the incumbent has more name recognition. However, after 34 years, everyone knows him and only 46% of voters want to re-elect him. Contributions to my campaign in this semi-rural district keep our healthcare and accountability messages in front of voters, especially voters who we haven't been able to reach on the phone or at their doors but who don't know me as well yet. With a cheap media market, your contributions go a long way towards helping us win."

Washington state legislator Beth Doglio is in one of those D vs D congressional general election battles. She represents the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party and her opponent, the president of the Chamber of Commerce, represents the Republican wing. Beth's statement:

Thank you all for standing up for progressive values and candidates that will bring a strong, strategic, tenacious voice to Congress calling for transformational change. In the final days of the campaign, your donations make a huge difference. It can make a difference in how many voters we can reach with mail, television ads and digital communications. The very first Congressional race I ever worked on was won by four votes. Four-- count them 1, 2, 3, 4!  And this, after three recounts. The dollars that come in in the final days of a campaign can make that four vote difference. And, the people we elect will make the difference on how quickly we move to a fossil free future, universal healthcare, compassionate immigration reform, criminal justice reform and so much more.  Make the most of the next few weeks-- sign up to call voters (you can pick any campaign in the country we're all doing virtual phone banks) and donate away...

Kathy Ellis's race in southeast Missouri is the toughest one Blue America has gotten behind in this cycle-- a rural and small town R+24 district virtually abandoned to Trumpism by the Democratic Party. Ellis is undaunted: "From day one, I’ve said I’m in this race for the working people of Missouri’s 8th district and to help rebuild progressive infrastructure in a district that has long been ignored. That remains true, all the way through the finish line. We have two major funding priorities right now, and at this point in the game, 100% of contributions go to these areas. The first priority is field and organizing, and specifically hiring organizing in the region. In just the past two weeks, we’ve hired three field organizers who are dedicating their time to calling voters and reminding them to vote. We’d like to hire two more individuals to work with us in our final get out the vote stage. Our second priority is expanding our advertising. In a 30-county district like MO-08, getting our message out can be difficult, and tv/digital ads are some of the best ways to do it. We recently produced an amazing ad focused on Smith’s record, and it’s producing strong results in digital ads. We need to raise $15k to get that on the airwaves across the district. For years, Smith has relied on his corporate donors to help him blanket the airwaves and dominate the conversation. We’ve been challenging that from day one and are ready to take it to the next level."

Audrey Denney told us that she needs to raise $458K more to win and told us what she's talking about with people she calls on the phone asking for contributions to show them that even in this red district, it is a winnable race. In polling last June:

• Audrey trails Rep. LaMalfa -5% on initial ballot.(41-46)
• Audrey is even 47-47 after introducing positive ballot statements on Audrey and Rep. LaMalfa.
• Audrey leads +8% (50-42) after full messaging.

In polling last week:

• LaMalfa’s lead has shrunk to 4-points (49% to 45% for Denney) in a district that has a double-digit Republican advantage in partisanship.
• Tracking poll represents a small percentage of our messaging plan having reached voters. At the time of the poll voters had only been exposed to 20% of our paid communications plan.
• Audrey is winning No Party Preference voters 60-29. There is a chunk of NPP voters (10%) who have a negative view of Trump, but have not yet heard of Audrey.

"Our June poll," she told us, "showed that our messaging is beating Rep. LaMalfa’s and we are moving voters. We are on track to finish this race with strength." She raised $671k in Q3 from 16,000 individual contributions and she is working hard to fully fund her $2.6 million dollar budget. "We are going to take this seat nobody is paying attention to. It is also our assessment that an additional $500k in investment in television in the Sacramento media market would finish off Rep. LaMalfa."

The West Virginia seat Cathy Kunkle is contesting is no walk in the park for a Democrat either, but Cathy is no ordinary Democrat. She's a populist and a progressive with ideas that make sense to the people in central West Virginia. "Our campaign," she said, "aims to raise $65,000 in the next two-and-a-half weeks. That money will go towards keeping our ads on the air across our congressional district, footing the bill for the 100,000 phone calls and texts that we'll be making to voters by election day (we're 35% of the way there) and paying the staff who are running one of the largest field operations of any West Virginia congressional campaign in recent history, despite the pandemic.

Mondaire Jones is in a pretty blue district and he's polling well but when I asked him if he needs contributions this late in the game his response was clear: "We do!!!" One of his third-party opponents-- a Republican now running as an independent, is self-funding his congressional campaign with at least $500,000 and running misleading and vicious TV ads against Mondaire. "This week, I learned that one of my opponents decided to drop six figures in negative ads against me on television. The Willie Horton-style ad calls me an 'extremist' who wants to 'free criminals' and also flashes images of AOC, Rashida, Ilhan, and Ayanna across the screen, saying 'we don't need any more radicals in Congress.' It uses racist tropes to criticize my support of New York State's common sense criminal legal reforms, which passed with overwhelming majorities last year. We are genuinely concerned about the impact it will have across our district, especially because I look very different from the representation this majority white, suburban district is used to. We'll be ramping up our expenditures in this final stretch to ensure people have accurate information about me, and we need all the support we can get to fight back."

Omaha progressive Kara Eastman told us she "locked in a tight race with Trump Republican Don Bacon. I lost to him in 2018 by just under 2 points, and I lead in the latest poll by the same margin. But what we are seeing is phenomenal: Republican-aligned dark money Super-PACs have ALREADY spent over $6 million in this race, attacking me with the most extreme langage. I have only been able to fight back due to the support of my massive grassroots army of donors. Every day we see that more and more money is being spent by the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson under the direction of Kevin McCarthy against me, so we need more and more grassroots support." 

Trump literally let a convicted felon out of prison to run for the Atlanta district that was represented by John Lewis. With Lewis' passing state Sen. Nikema Williams, a tough progressive leader, became the Democratic nominee. She told me that "Every contribution made to our campaign right now goes towards direct voter contact, making sure we fight against the hate and vitriol of my opponent to protect the legacy of Congressman John Lewis. My opponent is a Donald Trump apologist who is not fit for public service. I have a proven record of working to uplift the voices of those too often left unheard and unseen. I’m fighting out loud on purpose for the promise of America, for all of us. This election is the most consequential of our lifetime. Voting rights, access to abortion, access to health care and child care-- SO much is at stake."

JD Scholten has helped run neo-fascist Steve King out of politics and how he's taking on King, Jr. in the only Republican-held district left in Iowa. "We're focusing these last few weeks," he told me, "on connecting with Independents, Republican women, and non-voters who are fed up with career politicians maintaining the status quo that props up corporations and the 1% while leaving the working class behind. Any extra dollars will go to our voter contact program and pay for our tele-town halls, where we will dial out to folks across the district who can tune into J.D.'s live parking lot rallies. For those at our parking lot rallies, folks stay in their cars and listen to J.D. via a local radio frequency or can watch live on our Facebook page, and now we're adding the feature of dialing out to folks at home. Throughout this pandemic, our campaign has worked hard to follow health and safety guidelines while finding creative ways to reach out to voters and get folks involved in our democracy."

Adam Christensen turned 27 on Saturday, the youngest congressional candidate Blue America is supporting this cycle and if he wins, he'll be the youngest member of Congress. His election will prove that progressive Democrats can compete and win in rural areas. "Our campaign," he told me, "is going to win by turning out young voters, progressive voters, and irregular rural Democratic voters. All three of these voting blocs are traditionally ignored but they are key to winning in Florida’s 3rd, and will be instrumental in also delivering Florida for Joe Biden. Contributions to our campaign will fuel our first television ad (which is airing in rural parts of the district even before the Democratic stronghold). We are able to place cable television ads to irregular and rural Democratic voters at under $20 each. $2,000 will keep our ad up for nearly a week in the final stretch in the most rural parts of the district. We know these voters decide the latest of all, so late money is critically important to reaching these hard to contact voters. This race is the best bang for your buck in the country. 

Nate McMurray is amazing. Electing this guy to Congress would be as disruptive to the status quo as anything American voters can do this cycle. Please read his statement and you'll see what I'm talking about. Nate:

A win for my campaign in NY-27 will signal to the world that Trumpism is dead! Especially in NY-27, where Trumpism got it’s foothold. Trump’s first big endorsement in 2015 came from convicted ex-Rep. Chris Collins. NY-27 is home to disgraced GOP operative Michael Caputo and failed big-mouthed Trump supporter Carl Paladino. Trump won the district in 2016 by 25 percentage points and felt such strong ties here that in 2018 he campaigned in person against me for Collins. But I defied the odds and came within 1 percent of winning in 2018. My opponent now hugs tight to Trump but is losing support every day. A win for us in NY-27 will be an actual expansion of the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, giving progressives like me and the donors of Blue America not just the best chance in decades to implement a progressive agenda, but one that can get results even faster with a supermajority in the House that stops Trumpism in its tracks. 

My progressive campaign right now is at a crucial junction, at the culmination of three years of overwhelming support from grass-roots, small donors and union members running against one of the most far right members of Congress today. Eighty-five percent of my donors are small dollar Western New Yorkers, most of whom continue to give through the end stages of the campaign. It is these everyday Americans-- in need of affordable quality healthcare, good paying jobs, economic assistance for struggling businesses, improved infrastructure, and a cleaner community around them-- who are most directly hurt by the hate-filled and hurtful actions of Donald Trump and his GOP enablers.
Late-stage donor dollars will figure heavily for me these last weeks, because me and my team have more time than ever before to affect and protect the vote and we need all the resources we can muster to do it. My team and I will put funds to use getting out the late vote, getting media up, but most critically we will need it to send my team out in the field to oversee and protect the voting process at the polls in all 8 counties that make up NY-27 during voting and after the polls close. Absentee ballots are cast and received from Sept. 18-Nov. 10, in-person early voting occurs at select sites Oct. 24-Nov. 1, then widespread in-person voting on Nov. 3. On Nov. 5, two days after Election Day, New York starts a week of counting absentee ballots. My die-hard NY-27 grassroots donors and volunteers in NY-27 will have all their donations and hard work validated and supported by late-stage big donors like Blue America. And then a bigger fight comes after Election Day when New York State starts the absentee ballot count. I'm going to rely heavily on late-stage donations like Blue America’s to protect votes cast at the polling booth and in the absentee ballot count. My team will be dispatched across NY-27 to oversee the vote count and combining our forces with fellow Democrats for days-- maybe weeks-- thereafter to fight what we predict will be intense efforts in NY-27 by the GOP to suppress the vote count in all 8 counties.  I'm going to need resources to keep my people engaged and ensure that every last vote cast for me is counted and we bring in a massive win!"

So those are your choices -- who will you "vote" for? Do it soon, we'll choose the winner in just a few days. Because, every candidate you just read about needs your donations (and votes!) Right Now.

Thanks for always doing what you can to make this a better world,

Howie, for the entire Blue America team

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