Project Wonderful

Monday, December 30, 2013

New York Proposal To Move September Primaries to June, Like Normal People

From Capitol Confidential:

In symmetry with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins has introduced a bill that would move the state primary from early September to late June, currently the court-ordered home of the primary for Congressional races.

In a statement, Stewart-Cousins calls the move “a common sense and good government approach to save our local taxpayers at least $50 million and will help increase voter turnout, giving more people a voice in the electoral process.”

The June timetable is opposed by Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos, who believes it would complicate the end of the legislative session.

This bill is carried by Silver in the Assembly.

The current June federal primary is required by the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act, which sets early deadlines for absentee ballots to accommodate service members overseas and other Americans living abroad.

Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk said sticking with the September state primary “will deprive military members serving overseas of one of our most fundamental rights — the right to have their vote counted.”

Update: Eric Soufer, spokesman for Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein, says the lawmaker concurs with his chamber co-leader: “Sen. Klein does not believe we should hold a primary during the busiest and one of the most important stretches of the legislative session.”

UpdateX2: In a statement, Silver says he’ll take up the Assembly version of the bill toute de suite after session convenes:

Moving the state primary day to June to coincide with the federal primary day is a practical solution. Combining the two elections will encourage voter turnout. It will eliminate the administrative burden on local governments across the state and save taxpayers nearly $50 million annually.

It is imperative that the June primary is finalized quickly, and we intend to take up this legislation (A.8198) early in the 2014 session. We look forward to working with our partners in government to do the same, providing municipalities sufficient time to implement this common sense, cost-saving measure.

How NOT to Canvass

This wonderful instructional video from "Freedom University," which supports such "freedom-loving" candidates as Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, gives some interesting advice on how to knock doors such as "go in groups of two to five people" and "make sure offer them a yardsign" and most importantly, "dress like you are in a 1992 after school special." I feel really good if this where the right is learning how to do its ground game.

Advocate from Where You Stand: Climate Change Edition

As I stated earlier this week, I am very afraid of climate change. One of the most frustrating aspects of the problem is that fact that certain politicians will put our entire planet's future in jeopardy in order to score political points (shocker) or even more upsetting are actually so ignorant that they believe rhetoric that flies in the face of science. As you know, I am a big fan of accountability and of creative organizing. So I was thrilled to discover this BRILLIANT plan from Change350 to rename tropical storms caused by climate change after the climate change deniers themselves. But don't take my word for it! Check out the video above!

Mentorship vs. Sponsorship

I've wanted to write about the difference between Mentorship and Sponsorship for quite a while, but I haven't known what to say mostly because Sylvia Hewlett owns it so perfectly. Sylvia is the President and CEO of the Center for Talent Innovation and also runs the Gender and Policy Program at Columbia University, a program from which I recently graduated. Sylvia (literally) wrote the book on sponsorship. So I'm just going to share Sylvia's words from this Forbes Magazine interview with her.

In short, mentors advise; sponsors act.

Mentors shine as you start to define your dream. They can see and put into words for you what you may not see about yourself or be able to articulate. They can help you determine your strengths: what you do exceptionally well and what sets you apart.

...Research from the Center for Talent Innovation (CTI) shows that the vast majority of women (85 percent) and multicultural professionals (81 percent) need navigational help. Mentors can help you understand the unwritten rules, provide a map for the uncharted corridors to power, and reveal “the business behind the business.” Most important, by assisting you with this essential assessment, they prepare you to attract sponsors.

If mentors help define the dream, sponsors are the dream-enablers. Sponsors deliver: They make you visible to leaders within the company — and to top people outside as well. They connect you to career opportunities and provide air cover when you encounter trouble. When it comes to opening doors, they don’t stop with one promotion: They’ll see you to the threshold of power.

Hewlett also points out that women tend to be overmentored and undersponsored. When we talk about networking and advancing our careers, we tend to talk about the value of mentors, but not of sponsors. In 2014, I challenge you to find a sponsor or better yet, sponsor someone else!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

CampaignSick AMA

Better late than pregnant? Sorry, guys. These are the FAQ's from Rootscamp weekend that I promised I'd answer on my blog.

1) You work on CampaignSick? What do you do for them?
Everything. Well, basically everything. CampaignSick is just me, Nancy, army of one. I write the articles, curate the GIFs and answer the questions submitted to the blog. I also accept submissions from the fabulous campaign community, without which CampaignSick would just be me laughing at myself, which I do enough of anyway.

2) How do you make money from the blog?
I don't really, but I am hoping to change that. Last year I made $73 dollars from Passionfruit ads which you see at the top of the blog and Tumblr. I am hoping to create a sponsorship program and add a PayPal button over the next couple of weeks, but don't worry. CampaignSick will always be 100% free for the poorganizing community.

3)What campaign do you work on?
It's usually not hard to figure out where I work by doing some very light social media stalking, but in most cases I don't like to write about specific campaigns I'm working on. Even though I try to make it very clear that I am not writing or tumbling about my current projects (and unless otherwise specified, I'm really not) I don't want there to be any cause for confusion or for something I say to reflect negatively on my campaigns. The first rule of field organizing, after all, is don't talk to the press. I have worked on campaigns for seven years on everything from Presidential (John Edwards=oops4lyf) to City Council. I currently work at a DC based organization that advises candidates across the country at every level of elected government, so I get to have my hand in a lot of pots.

4) Have you ever worked for OFA?/What do you think of OFA?/ What do you think of Organizing for Action?/It seems like you love OFA./It seems like you hate OFA./It seems like you get a lot of your stuff from OFA.
Your OFA questions revealed!

I did work for OFA briefly during the 2010 election cycle when it was Organizing for America. I also worked with OFA in 2008 when I worked for a State Democratic Party electing a US Senator and we coordinated with OFA for the last couple months. And of course, I volunteered in 2012 and got to advise, talk to and be on conference calls with a lot of OFA field staff in various non-official capacities.

The reason it seems like I get a lot of my stuff from OFA even though I spent relatively little time working for them is that OFA was born out of a long and prestigious organizing tradition of which I am a part. Mitch Stewart, for example, who was part of the birth of the OFA field program, was my Coordinated Director in 2006. (I don't know why the Wikipedia article doesn't mention that...or why Mitch Stewart has a Wikipedia Article.)

When it seems like I "hate" OFA it is usually because I'm reacting to the misconception that the OFA created field or that it was the best/only thing that's ever happened in campaigns. Obviously neither of those are true. OFA was the best campaign possible...for electing Barack Obama. I think sometimes people who have only ever worked for OFA don't have an appreciation for the fact that smaller or less glamorous campaigns face different obstacles. No one wants to hear your personal story on a State Leg. race. You cannot send an email about an event featuring a City Council candidate and expect people to attend.

I love, love, love a lot of OFA-ers and am eternally grateful for the people OFA has brought into my life and to the general organizing community. In my mind OFA's biggest and most applicable contribution to the campaign community is creating a culture that invests in and values its low-level staff and volunteers. That isn't to say no one had done this before, but especially in 2008 (Respect, Empower, Include) OFA articulated and emphasized it in a way that felt pretty revolutionary and jived with my organizing ethos. I myself was an organizing newbie at the time. OFA's social media/web team is also incredibly innovative and has really redefined the limits and created a new standard for integrating media, web and field.

I really don't know a lot about Organizing for Action, and I'm hoping someone will agree to write about it for me soon!

5) How/why did you start your blog?
When I left campaigns to go to grad school I wanted a way to stay connected to what was going on in the organizing/elections community. I also wanted to put it on my grad school applications. In December of 2011 when Feminist Ryan Gosling was sweeping the Internet, I made a corresponding Tumblr as a joke for myself/my friends. It took off and the rest is history.

6) Why is your blog called CampaignSick?
My intention was for CampaignSick to be like homesick for campaigns, but it is definitely also a sickness.

7) How come my GIF didn't get posted on the tumblr?
I post everything unless it is offensive or the GIF is broken so...if you keep submitting and not getting published, you might want to get someone to help you with the formatting. (It's hard! Tumblr changes the rules like every day!)

I think that's it! Feel free to keep 'em coming.

Campaign Love and Mine,


Friday, December 27, 2013

Today in Voter Suppression: Voting Rights Round Up, 2013

The Brennan Center for Justice (fan girl!) does an amazing job of summing up laws to both restrict and expand voter access. You'll be happy to learn it's not all bad news! Click here to find out more.

Today in Voter Supression: Well, Duh.

Political scientists at Cambridge University have concluded that laws supposedly aimed at preventing voter fraud (for example voter ID, and bans on same day registration) are actually partisan, specifically Republican, efforts at voter suppression.

In an effort to bring empirical clarity and epistemological standards to what has been a deeply-charged, partisan, and frequently anecdotal debate, we use multiple specialized regression approaches to examine factors associated with both the proposal and adoption of restrictive voter access legislation from 2006-2011. Our results indicate that proposal and passage are highly partisan, strategic, and racialized affairs...

Rather, we argue that the Republican Party has engaged in strategic demobilization efforts in response to changing demographics, shifting electoral fortunes, and an internal rightward ideological drift among the party faithful.We situate the most recent round of electoral reforms--far from historically unique--among other measures trumpeted as protecting electoral legitimacy while intended to exclude the marginalized for a particular political party's advantage.

Devotees will note my disdain of political science for complicating and restating that which is obvious to everyone who works on campaigns and then passing it off as new findings, but there you go voter fraud liars, in addition to lying about voter fraud and climate change, you can now also lie about the findings of this study.

6 Simple Rules for Not Being a Jerk to Your Interns

A couple of weeks ago I got a message on my blog saying “you need to speak more highly of interns.” Someone picked the wrong day to mess with me because I had just spent 3 hours in traffic trying to move to DC. It did remind me however of the movement to pay interns and the critical differences between an internship and just free labor.

As much as I would love to say that all campaigns should pay their interns, it’s just not going to happen. The value that interns add to a political campaign is that they are skilled and invested workers who do not take (much) money out of the budget. At the same time they are not working for “free.” Interns are not indentured servants nor are they drones programed to make 7 hours of phone calls every day. Here are some best practices for valuing your interns so that you both have a rewarding experience.

1)Thank them! This is beyond basic, but often forgotten. Like volunteers, interns do not HAVE to be there. For whatever reasons they may come in to the office, they keep coming back for you. You could not run your campaign without them and need to treat them as such. Treat them with appreciation, kindness and respect always. ALWAYS.

2)Pay them in experience.People take internships to gain experience in a field and learn whether a specific job is the right fit for them. This is a key distinction between an intern and a volunteer. A volunteer may already have a career or be retired, an intern probably not. This is not to say interns will never do grunt work. On a campaign everyone does some grunt work. It is pretty expected in a college internship that 50% of time will be spent on menial but meaningful tasks. For us, this might include voter contact, data entry, or assembling walk packets. BUT not only is it inhumane to plop someone down in front of a phone for 7 hours, it is not a good way to keep them coming back. Take the time to show your interns how to do staff level tasks. How to cut turf, pull lists, write a script etc. They are there to learn.

3)Empower your interns. Since you’ve trained your interns well, they are able to take on more responsibility. For interns or for staff, goals help create a sense of growth, accomplishment and accountability. For example, interns can recruit for and run their own phone banks, deploy a canvass or coordinate a smaller size house party. Less work for you, more experience for them!

4)Explain why. Don’t just train your interns HOW to do a task, explain WHY. This is important for all your volunteers but critical for interns. If your interns walk away from their internship without the ability to explain how and why a campaign office works you have failed them.

5)Create clear and reasonable expectations. How much of a time commitment do you expect the and when—are they committing to a certain number of early mornings or call times? Discuss the kind of work they will be doing (it’s not all fundraisers and rallies). Remember that not everyone can afford a full-time unpaid internship. Hold yourself accountable to these agreements as well.

6)Hire your interns. True you are not paying interns a salary, but as we discussed above, you are paying them in time, your most precious resource. Interns will be representing your campaign in an official capacity and will ask you for recommendations later. (Recently I had the unfortunate experience of having to tell an “intern” who I did not hire that I would not serve as a reference for her.) Putting your name or your candidate’s name behind someone is a big deal and is an honor that should not be bestowed on just any college student who wanders into your office. Ask why they want to be there. Someone without a real interest in elections or your campaign is not going to be worth your investment. Once you invest, make that investment real and make an internship with your campaign mean something.

And for Godsakes, feed them!

Intern love and mine,


Windmills Do Not Work That Way!!!!

In case you needed any more reason to roll your eyes at the average "independent" voter, new research shows that independents tend to believe, or not believe, in man-made climate change depending on the weather that day. Also, Republicans still don't believe in it. Because you know, who listens to things like facts and science?

ARE YOU KIDDING ME? You guys know we're almost definitely going to die from climate change, right? It is one of my biggest fears besides improvisational comedy.

Voting population, I cannot with you sometimes.

RIP Jason Chambers

"The idea of eating horse doesn't really bother me. They would do it to you. Horses are assholes."

How could I not want to help honor the author of this quote? Within minutes of reading about Jason Chambers, a 27 year-old OFA Virginia alum who died of cancer this month, I was crying at my desk at work. He sounds so much like someone I would have been friends with. I keep imagining him having the experiences that every organizer has; getting told that making phone calls doesn’t make a difference and doing it anyway, staying up until the middle of the night making walk packets,never imagining that that would be his last job. So many of us justify giving up our 20’s to campaigns with the knowledge that when we are older with steady paychecks and families we will get to look back on a youth without regrets. Jason never got that opportunity.

Below is a tribute to Jason written by one of his friends from the Obama campaign, Justin Spees. Please help honor his memory by taking a moment to read it and contributing to his funeral expenses if you can.

On the night of Thursday, December 19th, Jason Chambers passed away after a months’ long struggle with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare and very lethal type of bone cancer. He was 27 years old, and like so many readers of this blog, a 2012 OFA field organizer.

Jason started as an intern for OFA in January 2012 in his hometown of Danville, Virginia. He was hired that summer to take over a large, rural part of southern Virginia called Pittsylvania County. He was quiet, and naturally acclimated to the hard work of a campaign. He was also ferociously intelligent and jaw-droppingly funny. He was the kind of guy who would offer you his coat and then tell you he was only doing it to get you to stop complaining about the cold—-someone who was so humble about his decency that he’d pretend it was something else. If you ask anybody who met him, even if it was just once, they’d tell you a story about how selfless he was, and how kind. They’d also tell you about how he’d mask that kindness with an acid sense of humor you envied as you were laughing your ass off.

Two quotes, that give a sense of what he was like:

1.“You know what a Mitt Romney Presidency would be like? ‘Hi, I’m Mitt Romney, welcome to the first day of the Republican congress. We’re going to talk about jobs, jobs, jobs….No just kidding, more anti-abortion stuff.’” [followed by a half hour of the rest of us laughing]

2.[After our intern Laura telling us that the first word she ever spoke was “duck.”]
Jason: “God damnit.”
Laura: “What?!”
Jason: “That’s fucking adorable.”

Jason and I worked side by side in the Danville field office. I’ve lost count of the amount of times he had my back, or the amount of times he talked me down when I thought I was going to lose my mind. He and I singlehandedly kept half the bars in town open that year, just talking about sports, or girls, or the job we recognized even then was changing our lives.

Being a campaign person is a lot like being in a fraternity. Losing Jason feels like losing a member of the family. Most of us who do it for a living know what it’s like to have your life changed in a badly air-conditioned field office with a scrappy group of overfed, underfucked kindred spirits. Jason was one of the best of us. His story deserves to be told.

Jason’s family is currently raising money to help with funeral expenses. If you’d like to make a donation to help them, you can do so at

My deepest sympathies to his friends and family.


On Mixed Relationships, Campaigners and Non-Campaigners (Or Part I of How to Date a Campaign Boy, if You Must)

Campaignsicles, meet Laura and Adam! Adam is a career organizer and Friend of Campaign Sick (FOCS) who was kind enough to let me stay with him and introduce me to his wonderful wife, Laura, when I was interviewing for jobs. I’d been looking for a non-campaign person to write about what it’s like to be in a long term campaign relationship (most of the campaign couples I know are both in politics) and Laura generously agreed to share her perspective below. Laura and Adam met at DragonCon in college (ask them about the story of how Laura proposed, it’s adorable) and she stuck with him not only through his stint in the Peace Corps but through several candidate and marriage equality campaigns!

After reading Laura’s advice, do yourself a flavor and check out the Briskin-Limehouses' amazing cooking blog, the Kitchen Chemist and the Cook! I can tell you from experience that Adam makes a mean pumpkin pie and that their collective bag of cooking tricks is continuously growing. You could learn a thing or two! Enjoy! Here's Laura:

Mixed-Relationships - Campaigners and Non-Campaigners

So, what’s it like being married to and having dated a political campaigner, when you yourself are not one? Sometimes it sucks. Sometimes it’s great. Just like any relationship.

Little bit of background on me: I believe in my partner’s causes, if not as fervently. I’d volunteer/be a politico myself, but down that path leads to ulcers – I care enough to get angry which makes my stomach churn, and thus too much acid. Yeah, ulcers or actually learning to divorce my emotions from getting the work done. But I’m also fairly low energy and really like my sleep, so political activism is not the best career path for me. I like to say that keeping Campaigner fed, in clean clothes, and keeping the house reasonably clean (clean sheets are wonderful to sleep on) is my contribution to the cause(s). My campaigner is my contribution to the movement.

My relationship with a campaigner is really feast or famine, both in time and finances. While on a campaign, he brings in the finances but has little time. Off a campaign, he has a lot of time, but is not bringing in the finances. Part of why this works for us is that he is really good about doing the majority of keeping the household going chore-wise while off campaigns (which I become the primary on while he’s on campaign), as well as being good about hearing ‘I love you and need introvert time’, even while on a campaign and when we haven’t really interacted in 3 days. Meanwhile, I am okay with making sure that introvert time is limited to about 15 really restorative minutes. He’s good about me not coming to every. single. f’ing. fundraiser or networking event and sometimes I suck it up and come to more than I have the energy I think I have for.

Look. Here is how I look at being a campaigner and dating – you’re a niche group in the dating world. You don’t fit some mold of “normality”, “mainstream”, or what dating ‘should' look like. Which, just to be clear, is FINE.

Fuck normativity.

And gender roles. This will screen out people who want you to fit that mold rather than wanting you for yourself. Probably saving you a few bad first dates over your lifetime. It does mean that you will have to look longer and harder for someone you’re compatible with, while having less time to do so.

Here are some things I think are necessary in a partner, especially so between a campaigner and non-campaigner:
1) Independence – neither of you can allow your ‘whole world’ to revolve around each other. There will be periods when you won’t be available because Campaign. There will be periods when they will suddenly be crazy busy with their own thing while you’re not on a campaign. Deal.

2) Flexibility – see the feast or famine thing. You need the ability to make the most out of opportunities, especially unexpected ones. Adhering to a rigid plan doesn’t work when an invite to an awesome event can happen the day of, or you could have an evening together because something got canceled. Who does what around the apartment/house (assuming y’all live together) should change and change again as who has time changes.

– seriously, if y’all don’t communicate, including about emotions, ambitions, needs, and boundaries, DOOOOOOOOM - fastest way for miscues or expectations of what’s happening to spiral out of control. Eventually, that ends up with y’all in parallel but different relationships. Campaigners are already ‘off script’ of our culture’s dating script and assumptions/expectations bad™.

So, yeah, that’s my perspective on what it’s like married to a campaigner, why it works for us, and hopefully some helpful things to think about/look for in a partner.

Or you know, you could go for casual sex, if that’s your thing. Nothing wrong with safely blowing off some steam doing something fun. Just, you know, be kind, clear, and not an asshole.

Don’t be an asshole should just be a general rule of life. Now, get back to work and make more calls.

Amazing advice! If only "don't be an asshole" were an actual rule. One caveat I did want to add (and maybe this is just me trying to make myself feel better) I think you can prefer your romantic relationships fairly gender normative and be extroverted and still have these work. At least I hope so for my sake!

What I’ve learned from my own romantic misadventures is that communication, having your own life, and having the confidence not to need constant reassurance are all KEY. Big, big thank you to Laura and Adam for sharing their story. You can check out their wonderful cooking blog here.

Campaign Luuuuv and Mine,