Meet Our 2018 Candidates

At Only If You Run, we’re thrilled to announce the first six candidates to whom we’ve made donations in 2018.  They are:

Helen Probst Mills, NC Senate District 25
D. Cole Phelps, NC Senate District 1

Lauren Friedman, OH Senate District 29
Louise Valentine, OH Senate District 19

Jessica Miranda, OH House District 28
Taylor Sappington, OH House District 94

If you haven’t been offended by something that the Ohio or North Carolina Republican parties did in the last two years, you haven’t been paying attention. Remember when the North Carolina GOP weakened their Governor’s authority in a lame duck session after a Democrat, Roy Cooper, captured the office in 2016? We do. Remember when the Ohio GOP kicked people off the voter rolls for missing an election and then not returning a postcard? We do.

Only If You Run is here to support Democrats who make the tough decision to run for the local legislatures, held by Republicans, that write the rules of our democracy. Nowhere is it more important to protect our election processes and #UnGerrymanderAmerica than in Ohio and North Carolina, and that’s why, for our first round of giving in 2018, we’ve donated more than $40,000 to these six exceptional candidates.

We want to give more to Helen, Cole, Lauren, Louise, Jessica, and Taylor, and we’ve got more great candidates who have asked for our support. We aren’t stopping here: we plan to donate roughly another $100K in this 2018 cycle, and we plan to announce another round of candidate endorsements next month - completing the list of candidates we’ll help in 2018.

Electing Democrats to Redraw Congressional Maps Starts Now

If we wait until 2020 to look at the make up of state legislatures it will be too late for the post-census redistricting. That’s why Only If You Run is focussed on flipping seats now — and on making sure our endorsed candidates understand and are committed to creating fair and transparent redistricting processes moving forward. 

"More than half of the state elected officials deciding new district lines in 2020 will be elected this year, a new study by the National Conference of State Legislatures found.

Three-fifths of governors and one-third of all state senators elected during the 2018 midterms will still be in office during the next redistricting cycle, the state government policy research group found. While redistricting seems a long way away, experts say the governorship and state races mean parties should be focusing on this year’s midterms."

Read the rest here.

Gearing Up to #UnGerrymanderAmerica

Friends - 

Here at Only If You Run, we hope you’ve had a great first couple months of 2018; we have, as we’ve been gearing up to build on the great impact we had in Virginia’s elections last year, by raising money and expanding our ability to do more to #UnGerrymanderAmerica this year. Thank you for your support so far.

First and foremost, Only If You Run now has full time, professional staff! We’re writing to introduce Stacey Bhaerman, our new PAC Director. A native New Yorker, now living in Lancaster, PA, Stacey has worked in labor organizing and on political campaigns in eight states including three of our target states and Senator Tammy Baldwin’s historic 2012 race.

Last year, we donated $50K to four great candidates for the Virginia House of Delegates. We were part of a great election in Virginia; three of our candidates were among the 15 Democrats who flipped Republican-held seats, and all three were in districts that a Democrat had never won before.

These are the kinds of seats we have to win to fight back against gerrymandering; change at the federal level starts at the state level. And we all got the message in 2017, delivered by Doug Jones, Connor Lamb, and the candidates we supported in Virginia: you can’t win if you don’t run. That’s why we’re doing this - to help candidates make the tough decision to challenge incumbent Republicans.

With Stacey at the helm, our goal is to donate $200K in 2018 to those kinds of candidates. We’ve got about $50K on hand now with a few fundraisers in the works. We’re a few weeks away from announcing the first group of 2018 candidates we’re supporting. And we need your help.

Please consider donating - or for many of you, making another donation - today. If you can take the time to do more, we’re ramping up our house party schedule - email Stacey at and tell her you’d like to host a house party anywhere, anytime, and she’ll make it easy for you. We promise you’ll find it very rewarding.  

Follow us on Twitter and stay tuned. In Donald Trump’s America, everyone needs to do a little extra. As we said at the beginning, if everyone just does a little extra, we’ll make it through fine.



National Attention Focusing On Control Of State Legislatures And Redistricting

When we started OIYR, we did it because we knew that to dismantle gerrymandering and the systems that allow it to flourish, we would need to start at the state level. Today Roll Call discusses how this year’s state elections could affect the current gerrymandered congressional lines and the redistricting process.

“The congressional maps are all but set for the 2018 elections. But for those on the front lines of a simmering battle over the next decade of elections, the results are about more than who will control the next Congress.

This year’s election season could reveal just how much the current districts have entrenched an advantage for one political party over the other, whether courts will step in to stop state lawmakers from creating such partisan districts, and which party will control crucial local offices ahead of a nationwide redistricting based on the 2020 census.”

Read it all here 


GOP Continues To Fight Against Gerrymandering Reform Efforts

A TPM article published today gives a good overview of anti-gerrymandering and redistricting reform measures in the states that are meeting Republican resistance. This is why we are dedicated to flipping state legislatures and electing Democrats who will fight back and push for anti-gerrymandering reforms.

“With anti-gerrymandering efforts gaining steam, Republicans in some states are mobilizing to protect their ability to continue rigging election maps.”

You can check out the full piece here


Friends and Supporters –

Did you see what happened in Virginia tonight? In case you missed it: Democrats swept the statewide races, and have already picked up 14 seats in the House of Delegates. Those victories include at least three and possibly all four of the candidates backed by Only If You Run, with Donte Tanner up by 125 votes with the absentee ballots pending. This feels good!
It’s clearly a great night in Virginia, and we have three things to say:
One: Congratulations to all of the candidates who fought the good fight. You are what gives us hope. Donte, Wendy, Schuyler, Kelly – your bravery, your hard work, and your passion are deeply inspiring.
Two: We are on the right track. These local races will help determine the future of American democracy. Maybe this sounds dramatic? It’s not. We can #UnGerrymanderAmerica if we fight for it in this moment and support people who want to run for office.
Three: Tonight we celebrate. Tomorrow, the mid-term elections begin. Let’s get started – donate here.
Thank you for all of your support. We can all agree – we needed a win.
-Only If You Run

WEDNESDAY MORNING UPDATE: 16 seats, and Donte wins by 68 with all the votes counted!  He's likely one of several races in Virginia headed to a recount, some won by Republicans and some won by Democrats, but it looks like at least a 50-50 split in the VA House of Delegates.  An incredible result.  Democracy works.

FRIDAY UPDATE: OK, Donte is down by about 100 votes now.  The official vote canvass resulted in a shift of a 183-vote margin to Tim Hugo.  It's recount time.  Stay tuned, and hang in there, Donte!

Right now is the time to double down

We are writing today to express a deep and profound thank you to everyone who made our event in D.C. last night a success… and to give you a little update.

Tom Perriello addressing our candidates and their supporters

Tom Perriello addressing our candidates and their supporters

Many of our donors and supporters had a chance to meet our candidates last night. Wendy, Donte and Schuyler are all running in Virginia House of Delegate districts currently held by Republican representatives. All three spoke passionately about the issues that matter the most to themselves and to their districts. All three also spoke very seriously about the impact that Only If You Run has had on their campaigns.

Our efforts to endorse and support these candidates early in their races had deep and meaningful impacts: the announcement helped to raise awareness of their candidacy and their commitment to ending gerrymandering as a practice in Virginia, the funds helped to drive direct mailing efforts, digital contacts and supplement (in some instances) the salary of a first paid staffer, and ultimately it gave the candidates the mental boost that comes from knowing someone has your back and is betting on your ability to win.

When you first launch a campaign, the demands are endless. Raise money, get yourself out there, hire staff...the list goes on and on. The start to my campaign had another hurdle to it — I lost my brother, Brian, about two weeks in. All of a sudden, I was trying to run a campaign while helping my family process a devastating loss. It seemed impossible. But in May, things took a turn for the better. I brought on staff, was endorsed by EMILY’s List, and received my Only If You Run PAC contribution. It was a turning point. Now, we’re two points up in the polls, have hired five organizing staff, and are running a very competitive program. Without Only If You Run’s help at the beginning, I’m not sure we would have made it here.
— Wendy Gooditis (VA-10)

Virginia is voting to elect its entire House of Delegates in less than seven weeks.

As Tom Perriello told us last night - this is the first major opportunity that Democrats are going to have to demonstrate to the world that the Trump agenda is a losing one, that we are not about to fade quietly into oblivion and to signal that 2018 is going to be the type of wave year that not only wins back majorities in both Federal chambers, but changes the direction of this country forever.

Last night while we were discussing Virginia, Democrat Jacob Rosecrants, a public school teacher, won Oklahoma’s 40th House District in a special election by 20 points. Donald Trump won this exact same district less than a year ago by 11 points.

That is a 31 point swing. In Oklahoma.

This win is coming on the heels of five other Democratic special election pickups across states since November. Democrats have outperformed Trump in 26 of the last 35 special elections held since November. The Republican party has yet to flip a single Democratic seat since the election.

There is no longer a reason to doubt the fact that this coming November in Virginia and the election cycle of 2018 may be a monumental opportunity to change the direction of this country. Beyond gaining control of state legislatures leading up to redistricting in 2020, Democrats will also be able to hold the Trump administration accountable for the corruption and destructive practices it has brought to Washington.

Only If You Run is going to continue fighting. We are going to continue to support our candidates in Virginia this November and in several additional states leading into 2018. We need your continued help and we need you to stay involved. Our organization is small but it has already had a huge impact and it is entirely because of the dedication of people like you (and the fact that we have zero overhead).  So please:

  1. Continue to donate so we may continue to support great candidates who are going to make a difference in the elections to come;

  2. Reach out to us to get connected to resources in your area where you can knock on doors, make phone calls or otherwise lend a helping hand;

  3. Let us know if you are willing to host an event in your area

There is a bright light emerging over the horizon and we are all going to be a part of it.

Thank you all again for your continued support and please keep fighting as much and for as long as you possibly can.


Join Tom Perriello and Only If You Run in Washington DC on 9/12

Please attend and help promote Only If You Run’s Washington DC fundraiser on Tuesday, September 12th, with former Congressman and CEO of WinVirginia Tom Perriello, along with several of our inspiring Virginia House of Delegates candidates!

Though most days these days bring head-shaking new offenses, President Trump’s pardon of Joe Arpaio has us particularly shaken.  It is so brazenly autocratic; so nakedly an abuse of power; granted to someone so unrepentant, whose offense and conviction is so fresh; worthy of clemency only as payment for political loyalty.  Legal, but not just.  Destructive, in fact, to our system of justice.

Though Trump keeps fueling the fire of our fury, we started Only If You Run because The Resistance ultimately wins by cold calculation.  Donald Trump’s destruction will stop only when Congress holds him accountable or when we elect a different President.  Congress isn’t holding him accountable because it’s controlled by Republicans, who are being feckless.  Republicans control Congress and behave fecklessly because enough of them judge – correctly – that they only have to answer to GOP primary voters.  And they only have to answer to GOP primary voters because of Gerrymandering.

State legislatures are responsible for Gerrymandering.  Our fury must be focused on winning state house seats, in Virginia this year, then in North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and the other states that Republicans have most egregiously gerrymandered.

Tom Perriello understands this.  That’s why, after running an inspiring campaign this spring for Virginia Governor, he joined WinVirginia, as CEO, leading the fight to take back the Virginia House of Delegates.  And it’s why he’s supporting Only If You Run and our Virginia candidates, by headlining our fundraiser in Washington DC on September 12th.

We’re writing today to ask again for your support.  If you’re in Washington, please consider joining us on Tuesday 9/12, along with Tom; our candidates Wendy, Schuyler, and Donte; and Delegate Rip Sullivan, who represents McLean in the Virginia House, and is Campaign Chair for the Virginia House Democratic Caucus.  You can RSVP and donate here.  It’s gonna be a fun and inspiring evening.  And if this Arpaio thing has you as worked up today as it does us, we’ve got room for a few more co-hosts for the event, so email us at info@OnlyIfYou.Run and we’ll rope you in.

If you aren’t in Washington, please do two simple things:

1)     Make sure anyone you know in DC knows about the 9/12 event, and encourage them to RSVP and attend;

2)     Donate to Only If You Run, either through the DC event or our general donation page.

We know: what you really want to do is vote for someone for President who isn’t Donald Trump.  But folks, right now, in the cold light of 2017, we need to replace Republicans in State Houses with Democrats.  That’s what The Resistance needs to do at the ballot box this year and next, and Virginia is our first shot.  Of course, none of us really know on our own exactly how to do that; it’s not like we can all make independent, well-researched, strategic decisions about to whom to donate for the Virginia House of Delegates.

That’s why we’re here: to pool donations, and give them to candidates like Wendy, Schuyler, and Donte.  We’re all-volunteer, we have no overhead, every dollar we get goes to our candidates.  Help us help them, and other Democrats running for Republican-held seats in the GOP legislatures that are most guilty of Gerrymandering.

The Impact

The Point of No Return, VA - Republicans hold a 64-46 majority in the Virginia House of Delegates, yet Hillary Clinton carried the state by more than 5 points last November. Of those 64 Republicans who were reelected, 44 ran unopposed. Unopposed when the state went to a Democratic nominee for President by more then 5 points. 

Over the next 6 months, Only If You Run is focused on finding, recruiting and supporting candidates for the VA house of Delegates. We are scouring the map to find those districts where an incumbent Republican is holding a seat and is beatable. VA is the only state that runs its elections on an off-year, so November 2017 is going to be a referendum on the Republican party in the state and nationally. 

We have already received numerous applications from candidates who are fulfilling our criteria for support: 

Level 1: A candidate's districts falls just below those that are traditionally provided resources by larger PACs and other national donors. We want to find those battlegrounds that may be overlooked by national dollars but will make a huge difference. We want districts where Democrats might have a tough time competing in typical years, but where they can win in a wave year because of Donald Trump. We also want districts where we know our donations will likely make a significant impact. We plan to give no less than $5,000.00 to each candidate we endorse, significantly more to a few - the average cost to a candidate running for VA house of delegates is ~$50,000 so that money will have an impact.

Level 2: The candidate must complete our online questionnaire, submit a letter of endorsement from a constituent of note in the district and prove that they are running a viable campaign through various filing requirements.

Level 3: Finally, candidates need to agree to an interview with members of our vetting committee.

The final and most critical requirement then is for each candidate to sign onto our lifetime pledge:

Upon my election to public office, I will work to uphold the following principles throughout my career as an elected official, in the office I currently seek or any future office:

  1. I will work for free and fair elections.

  2. I will work to expand voter participation, and to expand access to the vote for everyone in my community and my state.

  3. I will support redistricting processes and structures that minimize the efficiency gap between voters, so that every vote has the same weight.

  4. I will oppose districts from being drawn for partisan advantage or disadvantage.

  5. I will work to ensure that redistricting processes are done in as transparent a manner as possible, with meaningful opportunities for public participation.

  6. I will continually work to root out ways in which voting rules and redistricting cause or exacerbate inequalities in political power and representation.

In accepting a campaign contribution from Only If You Run and taking this pledge, I agree that voting rights cannot be taken for granted, and that as an elected official I will affirmatively act to protect everyone’s right to an equal voice in how we are governed, and an equal say in who represents us in our state and Federal governments.

Of the candidates we have already coming forward in Virginia, all are running against incumbent Republicans, most of those incumbents did not even have a challenger in 2015, and nearly all of our candidates have never sought public office before. 

Our goal is not just to find candidates and recruit them for these critical races, it is not just to support them and make their decision to run a little bit easier, it is not just to ensure that those that we support will dedicate a part of their political lives to ensuring free and fair elections in their state or the nation. Our goal is to challenge everything. Our goal is to root out the rotting underpinnings of election politics that are enabling radicals to hold onto power in our House of Representatives unchecked by gerrymandered districts. Individuals who vote to take affordable healthcare away from millions, obstruct civil liberties, seek to destroy our free press and allow an unhinged President to continue to dangerously flail and challenge the viability of our Federal government. 

We will be announcing our first endorsed candidate within the next two weeks, these individuals represent the front line in our fight to take back control of this country and eliminate the bias in our elections.

Please continue to follow us and donate if you believe in us and you believe in this fight.

If you are in the Bay Area please also join us for a fundraiser May 31st. 

How the Comey Crisis is related to Gerrymandering

President Trump’s decision to fire James Comey is not illegal, but obstruction of justice is.

If Trump appoints someone about whom there is a bipartisan consensus of independence as the new FBI chief, we’ll have climbed down from this crisis, for now.  But if we get an FBI chief whose political independence is in doubt – someone who the country views as a partisan, and not politically independent from the President – and if neither the FBI (by continuing the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the election) nor the Justice Department (by appointing a special prosecutor) can be trusted to follow the evidence where it leads, then it’s time for some good ole fashioned constitutional checks and balances.  At that point, there will be no rule of law without genuine congressional independence and investigation.

We hope – nearly trust – that at some point enough Republicans in Congress will understand that they will eventually have to choose between Trump and the country, and assert the independence of the legislative branch.  Once that happens, President Trump will either yield to the rule of law or break it, meaning he will either keep his job or lose it.

We do not spend our time fantasizing about Trump’s impeachment; Only If You Run’s is fairly explicitly predicated on a four-year term, with elections on schedule.  But only the threat of impeachment can check this President’s anti-democratic, autocratic momentum.  Congressional independence is the fundamental constitutional safeguard against what Trump could be, and only a willingness to wield impeachment if necessary can protect congressional independence.

Which is why it ultimately comes back to how we elect our members of Congress.  Subversion of democratic processes at the roots are what yield this rotten fruit.  We must elect Democrats and moderates of both parties to state legislatures, so that we have congressional districts that are fairly drawn, not for partisan advantage, so that we have an independent, representative Congress that will fulfill its constitutional responsibilities.