Surprise! A few special elections you can throw money at.

There are a few special elections coming up quick, to fill vacant seats left by state officials who are movin’ on up or retiring. More on that below.

But first, I’ll take a quick moment and acknowledge how important action is. We saw it succeed this week, when House Republicans were pressured to back down (for now) from essentially castrating the independent investigative body that polices the ethical behavior of the members of the house. President-elect Trump, who deserves some credit for it, only really questioned the timing. I do give him credit for publicly calling them out.

This is significant because it proves that in this uncertain time, public opinion still matters. This was an effort driven by people currently under investigation to protect themselves; it was brazen and corrupt. We know this was about more than just improving the office, because their main problem with it is that it is successful.

Calling your representatives works!

And now for our regularly scheduled programming.

I’ll be making efforts to highlight elections and candidates large and small as I become aware of them. If you cannot donate or volunteer (or don’t want to), at the very least it is important that we are engaged and knowledgeable.

Because special elections have crazy low turnout, no party really has a huge advantage if the opposition’s voters just bother to show the hell up. You can donate to help these campaigns get out the vote, and also reach out to anyone you might know in these areas to make sure they are voting.

Remember, small elections matter everywhere matter to all of us, and produce the politicians who land on the national stage in the future.

January 10th – Virginia

Virginia has three special elections coming up. I one of them, for VA’s 9th senate district, a Democrat is running unopposed, so we won’t worry about that one.

22nd Senate District – Ryant Washington (D)

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Former state senator Thomas Garrett (R) is headed to the US House of Representatives, leaving an open seat, where Ryant Washington is running on the Democratic ticket. Washington’s election would mean the Virginia senate is split 40/40.

House of Delegates District 85 – Cheryl Turpin (D)

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Cheryl Turpin is running to replace Scott Taylor’s (R) newly vacant seat in VA’s House of Delegates. This race could be very close, but will still leave VA’s House in the hands of Republicans. Still, every ally counts.

Who gives a shit about Virginia’s state legislatures?

You do, because Virginia is a swing state. Voter suppression efforts, gerrymandering, healthcare and education access, and the overall state of the economy in Virginia directly affect your presidential elections, and who Virginians elect to your Congress. These are all issues controlled by state legislatures.

The previous legislature also sent this piece of shit law about racist redistricting all the way up to the Supreme Court. A Trump court may not have had the same reaction. Every time a jurisdiction sends a shitty law up to the Supreme Court, it is at risk to become YOUR shitty law. Just think what might have happened had this started in an all red state who didn’t have enough people appealing.

Click to learn more about Virginia’s State Senate or House of Delegates.

February 14th – Minnesota

10341662_363125700516661_3367549900353065826_nA seat in Minnesota’s House, for district 32B, has become vacant after a court determined that the incumbent, Bob Barett (R) did not actually reside in said district. Now, Laurie Warner (D) runs for the seat.

If elected, Republicans will still control Minnesota’s House, but again, every ally is important.

Why do I care about Minnesota’s House?

Well, all the above reasons also apply to Minnesota to a somewhat lesser degree; while not traditionally a swing state in Presidential contests, it’s very close to becoming one.

April 18th & May 23rd – Alabama

We can’t do much about these ones yet as candidates have yet to emerge, but I just want to put them on your radar, as they are both headed into primary time. Two vacancies have come about in the Alabama House.

The first is for Darrio Melton’s seat in District 67. Melton was elected Mayor of Selma this fall and is stepping down. The other is in District 58. Oliver Robinson (D) retired so as to minimize conflicts of interest because his daughter was appointed as Alabama’s liaison to the House of Representatives.

Being that no Republican party primary candidates have been announced, I’m thinking these seats might just be Democrat vs. Democrat, or Democrat vs. unopposed. If not, though, the Alabama House, unsurprisingly, is overwhelmingly Republican, meaning we cannot afford to lose one blue seat in that group.

Why are we bothering with a redneck hellhole like Alabama?

First off, quit viewing southern red states that way. Alabama is one of the reddest states we’ve got, and still ONE THIRD (apx 34%) of voters voted for Hillary Clinton, despite having some incredibly strict voter suppression efforts in place. Stop looking at it through the lens of how much Democrats lost by, and think of how many liberals there are living in a conservative southern state (and by extension, consider that approximately the same percentage – 1/3 – voted for Trump in a liberal stronghold like California)! That is a huge number of people that the Democratic party likes to just ignore. Those are margins that can be reduced by turnout efforts and education. Those are districts and neighborhoods that can be overturned, little by little.

Secondly, the rest of the country ends up footing the bill for these states where there is barely a social safety net. This means the feds are picking up the tab. You, [potentially] a taxpayer safe in your blue state, are paying into a system that disproportionately has to support people living in red states. Until you secede from the union or start voting in Republicans that would dismantle the programs altogether, you should be angry and advocating for these states to start paying their own damn bills.

Thirdly, have you read nothing so far? These people are still electing people to your Congress, drawing their districts and disenfranchising minority voters and trying over and over again to ban abortion. CARE.

Action Items

  • If you haven’t already, bookmark Ballotpedia. They have a great overview of some state legislature statistics and how things are shaping up around the country.
  • Find out what elections are happening in your state/area for 2017 – anything from school board to judicial elections to ballot measures. Many states do their local elections in odd years. Add the dates to your calendar, as well as deadlines to register to vote. Even if you didn’t change addresses, you have friends to harass into registering! Here is a link to Louisiana’s Secretary of State website if you’re in my area.
  • Donate to any of the above candidates if you support them and have the means to do so. If you don’t have the money but really want to help, consider phone banking (you can do that from anywhere). Click to visit the websites of Ryant Washington, Cheryl Turpin, or Laurie Warner to volunteer or donate.
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Author: Melissa

Melissa is an artist and half-architect living in New Orleans, Louisiana.

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