US Politics

Progressive group to spend $50M boosting Sun Belt turnout

WASHINGTON — While many Democrats are focused on winning back several Rust Belt states that backed President Donald Trump in 2016, a progressive group plans to spend $50 million to make sure the party doesnt overlook opportunities in the Sun Belt.

The group, Way to Win, will focus much of their effort on helping Democrats in states including Georgia, Arizona, Texas, Florida, Virginia and North Carolina, where the party hopes to make inroads with people of color, women and young people. The groups leaders will outline their plans at a donor retreat in Arizona on Monday. An advance copy of their blueprint provided to The Associated Press details an effort focused less on top-level races than building infrastructure that could help up and down the ballot — and for years to come.

“Its preparing to win not just in 2020, but to build power in the long term,” said Tory Gavito, who is president and co-founder of Way to Win, which was founded after President Donald Trumps 2016 win.

Their task will be difficult to achieve. Democrats havent carried some of these states at the presidential level in decades and have had only limited success in statewide races. In some places, the partys organization is suffering from years of neglect as Republicans have solidified their grip on power.

But Way to Win says Trumps unconventional re-election strategy, which is focused on driving turnout among those who support him but dont often vote, adds a degree of unpredictability that means Democrats cant take any state for granted.

“Its a threat,” Gavito said. “2020 is a race to drive up the most new voters possible. Our job is driving forward the new electorate in the South and Southwest.”

Florida offers a cautionary tale, group leaders say. The state is a perennial battleground, but Republicans have consistently held power in recent years. Gavito says thats because national Democrats have historically rolled in, spent big on TV advertising during marquee races, but left behind an infrastructure that atrophies in the off-years.

“They have millions of young people and people of color sitting on the sidelines because its an every four-to-two-year proposition,” she said. “Thats not community building; that doesnt create your base for the long-term.”

The group presents itself as a progressive alternative to established Democratic organizations and is largely funded by a network of women, including Susan Pritzker, a member of a prominent Democratic family who have long supported Democratic causes and derive their fortune from Hyatt Hotels.

Way to Win operates a PAC that donates directly to candidates, but most of their work is done through two nonprofit groups that do not have to disclose their donors.

During the 2018 midterms Way to Win spent $22 million and partnered with existing organizations in its targeted states. The belief, they say, is that local organizations know their communities best and can help target Read More – Source

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