RFS feel-good update (6/7): Winning is good; let's do more of it

June is big Election Month for us - get excited!

Good morning!

I could start this update the same way I’ve started or ended many, many, many of my updates: Alerting you that democracy is at stake; that we need to focus on state & local elections because only winning in DC won’t be enough if we don’t also have sustainable structural power; emphasizing the need for a new generation of Democratic leadership that rises from both traditionally red and blue states; etc etc etc.

But I’m tired of feeling demoralized (and, honestly, at least today, I’m tired of repeating myself.)

So instead: Some happy election updates!

  • Roxanne Martinez handily won her run-off for Fort Worth ISD board.

  • Jared Williams, a science teacher, and Elizabeth Beck, a veteran (and RFS alum from her 2020 TX House campaign) both won their seats on the Fort Worth City Council. Jared specifically beat a conservative who was the longest serving member.

We have 18 candidates on the ballot tomorrow and 49 candidates running on June 22nd. There are no off years! Stay tuned for more updates.

We talked with The Conversationalist about reverse coattails — state & local candidates are the true bulwarks against Trumpism:

Dedicated and appealing candidates, especially those running for local office, can gradually increase Democratic viability in conservative areas. Even if they lose the first time, or the first couple of times, their campaigns can make a difference. In local races, if a candidate is known, trusted, and has a plan to improve their neighbors’ daily lives, that often matters more than their stance on national issues. …

“The issue this always comes down to is resources,” Rocketto said, “and competition for those resources.” The money, he said, is there, but it tends to go to high-profile candidates in widely watched races, rather than to local candidates whose races cost less and who are better-positioned to win with adequate support.

“If the Party had been treating state legislative elections with the same level of priority that we treated the U.S. Senate over the last 10 years, we probably wouldn’t be struggling with [state-level voter suppression bills] today,” Rocketto said. It’s easy to convey the urgency of beating Trump, he added, acknowledging that doing so was equally critical to the Democratic agenda. It’s harder to explain that the true bulwark against Trumpism is at the state and local level. “People actually do care about this work,” he added. “They just don’t always care about it with their money.”

In other RFS candidate news…

In honor of Pride Month, we’re raising money for 25 LGBTQIA+ leaders running for local office. Chip in to help!

In RFS alumni updates…

And finally, a quick bench watch:

  • Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta talked with the Root about he and his fiance’s love & engagement story. It’s so beautiful.

In related reading…

  • A very depressing overview of what GOP state legislatures are up to, from The Atlantic. It’s worth reading the whole thing, but here are the quick hits:

    • Half a dozen states, including Tennessee, Montana, Iowa, and Texas, have passed legislation allowing gun owners to carry their weapons without a permit.

    • Texas, South Carolina, Idaho, and Oklahoma have passed legislation banning abortion when a fetal heartbeat can be detected, after about six weeks of pregnancy (before women typically even know they are pregnant); Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas also passed virtually complete bans on abortion. Arizona approved an extremely restrictive bill that includes barring abortions for certain genetic conditions.

    • Ten states have adopted about two dozen laws in total targeting transgender individuals, including legislation in seven states that bars transgender athletes from competing in school sports. In the U.S., “2021 has officially surpassed 2015 as the worst year for anti-LGBTQ legislation in recent history,” the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ-advocacy group, recently concluded. “States have now enacted more anti-LGBTQ laws this year than in the last three years combined.”

    • Through mid-May, “14 states have enacted 22 new laws with provisions that make it harder for Americans to vote,” and many other laws are still pending, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School. “At this rate,” the organization wrote, “the United States is on track to far exceed its most recent period of intense legislative activity to restrict the vote—2011.” More red states may join this push: After a walkout by state House Democrats blocked a restrictive Texas voting law this week, Governor Greg Abbott announced that he would call a special session to pass the law later this year.

    • Florida, Oklahoma, Texas, and about half a dozen other states have passed laws stiffening penalties against demonstrators who block traffic or cause property damage, and several of those states have simultaneously provided civil or criminal protection for drivers who hit protesters, according to a tally by the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law.

    • TennesseeOklahoma, and Texas have barred public schools from teaching “critical race theory,” which focuses on racism as an endemic feature of American history. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is moving to prohibit it through a ruling by the state board of education.

    • Florida, Georgia, and Texas have all passed laws penalizing local governments that cut funding for their police department. One of the measures approved in Texas stipulates that a county looking to cut police funding must first win voter approval through a referendum—but would apply only to counties with a population of 1 million or more, almost all of which lean Democratic.

    • Over the past year, several red-state governors have issued executive orders or signed laws barring local governments from mandating the use of face masks or limiting local businesses’ hours of operation; Florida and Tennessee have passed laws barring local governments or businesses from requiring residents to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination. Restrictive voting laws passed in Georgia and proposed in Texas explicitly outlaw measures used to increase voter turnout in the states’ largest cities (Atlanta and Houston, respectively).

  • It’s always time for a TikTok.

On the Run for Something podcast this week: First, our very first voicemail!! Listen in as we respond to a caller about the 1/6 commission and talks about how to learn all the things. (Then leave a voicemail yourself at (833) 244-5382!) 

Then, a conversation with Amanda Farías, candidate for New York City Council in the Bronx. She ran in 2017, came up short, then kept fighting as she worked her way through the NY Democratic party leadership elections. She always knew she'd run for city council again, but when the incumbent who had beaten her said some egregiously homophobic things, she decided to jump back in the race sooner than she expected. Now it's an open seat and she's absolutely crushing it. Learn more and help Amanda win at amandafarias.nyc.

Thanks for making all this possible. Good vibes only, because of you.

- Amanda

If you can do more, do more