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.

How are districts drawn?

Legions of citizens around the country will embark upon an ancient ritual in 2020; the decadal custom of counting the nation’s people. Shortly following its conclusion in 2021, fifty separate Congressional district maps will be ratified and define the future of representation in the United States House of Representatives for the following ten years. Which is 13 years from now. Which is 2030.