Project Wonderful

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Adventures in Mississippi

Many of you know I work at the wonderful Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund in Washington, DC. Last week I was in Mississippi building the groundwork to elect LGBT candidates in 2015 and 2017. For this reason it may seem like I fell behind on my blogging mission to write 31 posts in 31 days. In fact, I was blogging every day, it just wasn't here. I won't try to be sneaky and count all my work blog posts toward my CampaignSick goal, but I met some REALLY amazing people and came back really excited to share. *This would be a good time to remind you that the views expressed on CampaignSick are mine and not those of my employer or candidates, except in this case when they are.

Click here to be directed to the Victory Fund Adventures in Mississippi Blog!

Campaign Love and Mine,


The $5,000 Campaign Training Controversy

I've gotten a lot of questions about a recent article that began thusly:
"Two top veterans of President Obama’s campaigns are asking political campaigners to pay $5,000 per person for the chance to learn their secrets and then work for five weeks in an unpaid campaign job somewhere in America."
The criticism being that 270 Strategies is asking international activists to pay $5,000 to volunteer on campaigns.

It is rare that a controversy arises within the campaign world that I simply have no opinion on. I guess that's true here as well, but I need more information. What does the $5,000 cover (travel, housing, meals, a personalized plan etc)? How did they come up with that budget? These guys are too smart and experienced (I hope) for this to simply be a case of them buying their own hype.

270 Strategies did respond publicly to the criticism, but did not address the above questions. I don't really have commentary outside of what I've said, the article, and 270 Strategies' response. However, it is a big deal in the campaign community so I wanted to put it out there as something to be interested in and aware of. I will be sure to share updates as they unfold.

At the very least, I can't help but wonder what it means that our community was so quick to turn on the brains behind Obama's field program, or for that matter that this was communicated so poorly. Whoa, if true.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Ask An Election Nerd: How Does One Get An Entry Level Campaign Job Outside The Field Department?

Hello! You've posted some good posts about finding jobs and how you got started on campaigns working as an organizer. Do you have an advice for an upcoming college grad who's interested in working on campaigns but simply LOATHES the prospect of doing field work? It seems to be the only entry level job I hear campaign operatives talk about but having volunteered for campaigns in the past I know its not something I'm interested in doing full time...
Thanks for your question! After recovering from my initial knee-jerk reaction to anyone who refuses to work in field, I got to bounce your question off a couple of coworkers, one of whom started in field and then went on to manage and one of whom started and continues to work in finance.

The consensus among the three of us is that first you should consider why you "loathe" working in field. Common complaints about field include the long hours, the stress, the abuse you take from local stakeholders and the awkwardness of making cold calls. If these are your objections to field work, then campaigns in general are probably not for you. Finance, which is probably the second most available entry level campaign position, includes all of these drawbacks in spades. Also, as a junior staffer when the campaign approaches GOTV you will more than likely get absorbed into field. So keep that in mind.

Now, field positions are the most available at the entry level because there are the more of them. Even a large statewide campaign could have 100 field organizers but would be lucky to have even 5 finance assistants. If you are interested in working in a non-field department (which, by the way, might include research, finance, communications, operations and scheduling) your best bet is to apply to jobs early and before they are advertised. One coworker brought up the great point that when you see a posting for a Comms or Finance Director you should send your resume and let them know you are interested when they get around to hiring entry level positions in that department. That way when that director is hired and needs a staff, your resume is the first in the pile. You might also contact a campaign soon after a candidate announces and let them know you are interested when they start staffing up. Campaigns tend to have openings very suddenly (ie. when they get the money) and fill them very quickly. Letting your interest be known in a way that acknowledges that you understand that reality by being available but not pushy will work in your favor.

I would encourage you to seek out informational interviews with people who have worked in your department of interest. First, they will be able to give you an idea of what the day to day of an entry level job entails and whether it would be a good fit for you. Second, they will likely have networks in those specific areas of campaigns and be able to push your resume or let you know when their former colleagues are hiring. Note, I suggest contacting people who took the cycle off or now work at PACs, government offices or non-profits, since those currently on campaigns may not have the bandwidth to help network on your behalf.

Finally, if you are a Democrat and want to work in finance check out EMILYs List. They have a fantastic reputation for their finance trainings and also for placing staff on the ground afterward.

Best of Luck!

(Expect an upcoming post on why field is great.)

Campaign Love and Mine,


Monday, July 28, 2014

EASY Voting Act

H.R.5144 or the Equal Access to Support Youth Voting Act (EASY Voting Act)

"A Bill To amend the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to require States which require individuals to present a photo identification as a condition of voting in elections for Federal office to accept a photo identification presented by a student which is issued by the school the student attends." Basically it says if a state is going to require voter ID, that state has to accept official school issued student IDs. Because congress only has jurisdiction in federal elections, those are the only elections in which the bill would apply.

Good show, Congresspeople Cleaver,Cohen,Schiff, Jackson Lee, and Pocan who sponsored the bill.Of course as this op-ed points out, just because it makes sense and enfranchises voters doesn't mean it's going to pass. What a world we live in.

Michele Bachmann Hints At A Run (For Worst Person)

As far as I can tell, Michele Bachmann was reading my blog and about Ron Knecht wanting to cut rape prevention and Renee Ellmers basically calling women stupid and she was like, "I gotta get in on this too."

People think her latest hate-spout is a hint at running for President, but it makes waaaay more sense that it's a hint at running for worst person in the world. Think about it. Why would we want a President who fear mongers about pedophilia? But worst person? She's up there with the greatest. This time she accused the LGBT community of working to "abolish age of consent laws, which means we will do away with statutory rape laws so that adults will be able to freely prey on little children sexually. That's the deviance that we're seeing embraced in our culture today."

When asked about a possible repeat Presidential run Bachmann said, “I think if a person has gone through the process — for instance, I had gone through 15 presidential debates — it’s easy to see a person’s improvement going through that.” Oh boy! In fairness, who can really blame Bachmann for her homophobia? The last time she rant for president she was attacked by a gay robot.

Even More Rules for Campaign Staffers

An FOCS recently tagged me in a post on Facebook about this article from the New Media Firm. The rules laid out therein are more or less a mashup of the 15 Commandments and 10 Rules for Savvy Campaign Staffers but since both of those lists were passed down to me from generations of yore who got them from whom is hard to say. In any case, they could always use reinforcement. So I give you...

Will Robinson’s Rules for Campaign Staffers
1. If it’s not in writing it doesn’t exist.
2. No such thing as “off the record.” (Reporters are not your friends!)
3. Do not hold a private conversation in a public place. (This includes cellular phones and planes!)
4. Don’t believe any number that ends in zero.
5. Never turn down an opportunity to eat or go to the bathroom. (Don’t eat anything that you don’t recognize or can’t pronounce.)
6. Don’t spend any of your own money. (Personal) Don’t even admit you own a credit card. Don’t spend money that is not yours. (Authorized)
7. Not always a “right” or “wrong” answer – “It depends”
8. In a campaign, someone has to be in charge – campaigns are a place to foster democracy, not practice it.
9. Assume nothing.
10. If you make a mistake, fix it before analyzing, etc. (Bad news doesn’t age well.)

State-By-State Election/Democracy Fun Facts!

Hey all! You know whenever an organizer comes in from out of town locals inevitably give them the "that might be how it works in x, but that's now how we do things here" spiel? While that's largely untrue, one of the joys of campaigning is learning the little eccentricities that make each state proud or unique. I've been working on this post for a while, and I wanted to share at least one little loosely election-related fact for each of these states united. Some have more! Feel free to correct any errors or add your own! And if you enjoy CampaignSick, please don't forget to subscribe as a patron!

Campaign Love and Mine,

Hawaii has its primaries on a Saturday.
New York has its federal and local/state level primaries on different days.
Mississippi, Louisiana, New Jersey and Virginia have off year legislative elections.
Kentucky has off year gubernatorial but not state senate elections.
Nebraska had a non-partisan, unicameral legislature.
At over 6,000, Illinois has more units of government (i.e., city, county, township, etc.) than any other state.
Maine and Nebraska allocate their electoral votes by congressional district rather than on a winner takes all basis.
In 2002, Arizona became the first state to allow online voter registration.
In Missouri, a person can register to vote online and electronically provide a signature using a mobile device, tablet computer or touchscreen computer, but not a standard desktop computer.
Oregon and Washington are vote by mail states.
North Dakota has no voter registration.
In 1945, Georgia became the first state to lower the legal voting age from 21 to 18.
Two states, Maine and Vermont, allow felons to vote from prison.
The first formal government framework outlining a representative body was the Fundamental Orders adopted by the Connecticut Colony council in 1639. This is where Connecticut got the nickname "The Constitution State."
Alabama has the longest still operative constitution of anywhere in the world. It is 40 times longer than the US Constitution.
Delaware was the first state to ratify the United States Constitution (hence its nickname "the first state").
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is called the cradle of liberty because it was where both the Declaration of Independence and US Constitution were written (duh.) It is also where the first American Flag was sewn, and Betsy Ross was a badass.
Three states, Texas, West Virginia and Michigan, have straight ticket voting.
Arkansas is the only state to have had a seat in its legislature held by a member of the Green Party.
Unaffiliated and third party voters make up a majority of the electorate in Massachusetts and Alaska.
According to Gallup Rhode Island is the most Democratic state and Utah is the most Republican.
"None of These Candidates" is a voting option listed on the ballot in Nevada along with candidates for President of the United States and state constitutional positions. It recently won the Democratic primary for Governor.
The Republican party was founded in Ripon, Wisconsin in 1854 as a new anti-slavery party.
New Hampshire traditionally holds the first primaries in the country, Iowa has the first caucuses.
In Alaska and Idaho, the Democratic party has open primaries while the Republican party has closed primaries.
Maryland's 3rd congressional district has the honor of being the most gerrymandered district in the country.
Florida ( much to say) is the only state with a constitution that (through amendments) prohibits partisan gerrymandering.
In 2008 Oklahoma was the only state in which John McCain won every county.
Minnesota had the highest voter turnout in 2012 and 2008.
In 2012, West Virginia was the only state with a voter turnout of below 50%.
Mississippi saw the greatest voter turnout increase between 2008 and 2012.
South Dakota saw the greatest drop in voter turnout between 2008 and 2012.
In 2012 Wisconsin became the first state to elect an openly gay senator. (Tammy Baldwin!)
California was the first state to have two female Senators at once.
Wyoming (when it was still a territory) was the first state to give women the right to vote.
Montana was the first state to send a woman to Congress (Jeannette Rankin) even before women had universal suffrage in the US.
In 1894 the first women to serve a state legislature were elected in Colorado.
The recorded first female mayor in the world was Susanna Salter of Argonia, Kansas.
In 2012 New Hampshire became the first and only state with an all female congressional delegation.
Tennessee was the last state to ratify the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote.
Vermont has the highest percentage of women in its legislature, but has never sent a woman to Congress.
Mississippi sent the first African American Senator to the Senate. (Hiram Revels!)
South Carolina elected the first African American Congressman (Joseph Rainey!)
In New Mexico, Native Americans make up 10% of eligible voters.
North Carolina has the lowest rate of Union membership (and hence union voters) in the United States.
The American Federation of Labor (AFL) was organized in Terre Haute, Indiana in 1881.