Six months in: We’re a “Get Shit Done Group”
Happy six-months-aversary, Run for Something! (Sad six-months-aversary, President Trump…) In honor of this milestone, Ross Morales Rocketto, co-founder and campaigns director, sat down to update you about what we’re currently up to, how we’re using your resources, and why this work matters now more than ever.
When Amanda and I launched Run for Something on Inauguration Day, we did so with a website and a signup form. We thought that maybe 100 candidates would sign up in the first YEAR. In the first weekend, over a thousand ordinary folks stood up and said that they wanted to resist by running for office.
Fast forward six months: We’ve done a lot of good work, learned valuable lessons, and are operating at a scale we wouldn’t have dreamed of when we first got off the ground.
As of today, more than 10,000 people have expressed interest in running for office. Of those 10,000 folks, we have had a one-on-one screening call with over 1,200 candidates (1,224 as of this morning!) Those 1,224 screening calls required over 600 hours of volunteer time.
We’ve raised about $400,000 and our average gift bounces between $26 and $28. More than two-thirds of our money has come in from nearly 5,000 donors giving what they can when they can. We’re still trying to be as scrappy as hell.
To date, we have almost 3,000 volunteers who are interested in working directly with our candidates in some capacity. We have a mentorship database of nearly 200 political operatives ranging from senior staff on presidential campaigns all the way to local field organizers. (Become a mentor today if you want to help!)
Our screened candidates are able to reach out to those mentors and get help on questions ranging from “how do I write a campaign plan?” to “how does fundraising work?” to “what does a Treasurer do?” Over 200 of those candidates have already filed to be on the ballot — and that is mostly 2017 municipal elections. In 2018, that number is going to skyrocket with all of the state legislative races occurring (after all, there are only two state legislatures with elections in 2017).
But the numbers don’t tell the full story. We see ourselves as a piece of progressive infrastructure. While we believe that one way to resist Donald Trump is to sign up to run for office, we are not solely a “Resistance Group.”
We are a “Get Shit Done Group.”
To us, that means providing our candidates with access to the best resources possible. We do that in three ways: 1) make connections, 2) mentor, and 3) fund/endorse.
One of our core tenets is that we DO NOT reinvent the wheel. Because of that, we have developed a network of about 50 partners from across the progressive movement to ensure our candidates get connected to the best resources available. Those partners provide our candidates with trainings, online resources, and one-on-one mentorship.
We’re working with groups like Collective PAC, PCCC, EMILY’s List, Latino Victory Project, Inclusv, various state Democratic Parties and dozens of others.
We believe that even with all the tools and technology available, folks deserve a one-on-one conversation. That is why we’re building out a network of local political operatives in every state that can help our candidates. Right now, we have 26 states covered — we plan to have coverage in all 50 states by the end of the summer.
Those who do not currently have someone specifically dedicated to their state are able to find a mentor from our nearly 200 political operatives who have committed to working directly with our candidates.
We are currently giving money to candidates in Virginia. In the primaries we endorsed seven candidates. Of those candidates, two won, and we now have seven candidates running in the general. We are supporting those folks by providing contributions to their campaigns as well as through coaching and mentorship from experienced Virginia operatives.
Right now, our funding program is in its pilot phase, so that means we’re trying to get it right in Virginia. However, in the coming weeks we’ll be rolling out a series of endorsements with candidates across the country. While we won’t be giving money to those candidates in 2017, we will be working to amplify their stories online and through the press, connecting them to our partner organizations that also do endorsements, and making sure they have access to every resource possible.
Why it all matters
We are a lean organization managing a large number of volunteers and responsible for doing right by those candidates that have put their trust in us.
Have we been perfect? Nope. Certainly not. We’ve been working hard to make sure each and every person who wants help is able to get it. While this sounds small, one of the things I’m most proud of is that we’ve reduced our response times for candidates requesting help. We want everyone who comes in through our pipeline to feel supported. whether it’s a one-off question or a financial contribution.
Have we gotten better with each passing day? Yes. We’re still a new organization, but we take our mission seriously.
As we’ve grown and refined our work, we’ve been reminded again and again that there are two (of many!) reasons this whole thing matters.
First, short-term victories: More diverse, young, progressive folks running for office means more candidates having direct contact with voters, which is good for all progressives up and down the ballot. It means that we have truly authentic folks having one-on-one conversations with voters that bigger campaigns may not be able to talk to.
Second, the town council candidate of today might be the state legislative candidate of tomorrow. That state legislative candidate might one day run for Governor, Senator, or even eventually President. We need a strong bench that is diverse and progressive. As we move into 2020, 2022, 2024 there will be a changing of the guard where the largest living generation (millennials!!) will begin assume positions of power and authority in our political system. We are doing this now so that when we get to 2030 the diversity of our generation will truly be reflected in our elected leaders.