Swalwell final 2018 Town Hall

By Ward Kanowsky

Close to 450 attendees braved the wind and rain to join Representative Eric Swalwell (CA-15) on December 1 at Dublin High School for his last town hall of 2018.  Swalwell gave an overview of HR 1, the new Congress’ first major piece of legislation in 2019, touching on key issues of voting rights and dark money and also pledging to expand investigations so that the Oval Office is not used by the current occupant as an “opportunity to cash in.” On the issue of immigration, Swalwell said that despite threats of a government shutdown, he would never vote to fund the wall; rather, we need to focus on the “root cause” of the immigration crisis and work with other countries to help them address the poverty and violence within their own borders.

Rep. Swalwell Town Hall, photo by LeAnn Kanowsky
Rep. Swalwell Town Hall, photo by LeAnn Kanowsky

Some of the other issues discussed during Swalwell’s opening comments and during Q&A included:

  • Trump’s tax returns: “We will see them.” The House Ways and Means Committee could request the returns right now without a vote, but Swalwell thinks it will likely still go through the courts. Every President since Nixon has released their tax returns, and “we need to do an MRI” on Trump’s financial interests.
  • Impeachment: “The best thing for democracy is for Trump to be impeached,” but we need an impeachable case. “We don’t want to make a martyr out of him.”
  • Climate change: “The window is closing fast” to get something done. Since Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Accord (and the U.S. can’t get back into the Paris agreement until we have a new President), the best opportunity to get something done would be through an infrastructure bill that includes provisions for energy alternatives. This is an area where Trump might agree.
  • Guns: In addition to background checks, Swalwell supports banning or buying back all assault weapons. He told a personal story from when he was a prosecutor about a victim of an assault weapon who was shot in the leg, but still died because the bullet was fired at such a high velocity.
  • Yemen: Swalwell said that he supports House Concurrent Resolution 138, which directs the President to remove United States armed forces from the Republic of Yemen.

Photograph (top) © Rep. Swalwell’s office

Ward Kanowsky is co-lead, with LeAnn Kanowsky, of the Indivisible East Bay CA-15 Team.

 

Barbara Lee & the Democratic Caucus Chair

For 20 years, Barbara Lee has served the East Bay in Congress as a strong voice for principles IEB holds dear. We were proud to strongly support her for Democratic Caucus Chair of the incoming Blue House of Representatives. Now, we congratulate Representative Hakeem Jeffries of Brooklyn, who won this position in an election in the House on November 28. We think he is very well-qualified, but we do worry about the role that ageism and sexism plays in situations like these (a concern Rep. Lee has shared) and we ask Rep. Jeffries to use all the power of his new office to fight such threats to equality and equity. We are confident that Rep. Jeffries is a powerful supporter of progressive policies. And while Rep. Lee’s long history of bravery, experience and wisdom made her a truly exceptional candidate, we hope and expect that Rep. Jeffries will take his ascension to leadership as an opportunity to show a courage and vision to rival hers.

Barbara Lee still speaks for us.

For more background, check out Politico’s How Barbara Lee Became An Army of One.

Here is IEB’s Statement of Support, endorsing Rep. Lee, that we posted prior to the election:

Barbara Lee - IEB Statement of Support

 

 

November All Members Meet and Eat

At November’s Indivisible East Bay All Members Meeting we spent more time eating than meeting. Several dozen members and guests gathered to enjoy tasty food and each other’s company for our potluck and post-election celebration.

November 25, 2018 All Member Meeting
November 25, 2018 All Member Meeting

We also fit in a bit of business — Governance Committee (GC) member and CA-11 team co-lead Ted led us in a round of applause for the momentous blue wave, and used the victories to inspire us to keep it up. Some actions Ted urged members to take were for now-resolved races, such as Mike Espy’s failed bid to win the Mississippi US Senate run-off election. And at the time the CA-21 congressional race was nail-bitingly close, though as we know now TJ Cox finally pulled ahead of Republican Valadao the day after the meeting, Monday Nov. 26, and by mid-day Wednesday TJ’s vote count had increased to the point that he declared victory! This race is particularly dear to IEB’s heart; many of us wrote countless postcards and canvassed for TJ, after our friends and allies in Team Blue Wave Contra Costa and East Bay for TJ showed us it could be done (despite the fact that the so-called experts didn’t think it was worth a try!)

Newsletter team co-lead and GC member Ann proudly read IEB’s statement endorsing CA-13 Representative Barbara Lee for Democratic Caucus Chair and announced IEB’s role in spurring other groups to endorse Lee for this important position. Sadly, Rep. Lee narrowly lost her bid for this position. We are deeply disappointed that her history of bravery, experience and wisdom was bypassed. But we remain hopeful that the new Chair, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, will be a strong supporter of progressive policies.

Looking ahead, Ted announced some upcoming events:

  • Indivisible National is sponsoring a National Day of Action on January 3, 2019, the first day of the 116th Congress. As Indy points out, this is our movement’s first chance to speak with our united national voice about issues that are important to us. On that day, IEB is planning to hold gatherings outside the local offices of our three representatives: Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Barbara Lee (CA-13, and Eric Swalwell (CA-15). Check the newsletter for further details.
  • The annual Women’s March is January 19, 2019 — check the newsletter for info.
  • There’s no All Members Meeting in December; we’ll see you at the January 27, 2019 meeting!

 

 

Help elect Barrow Georgia Sec’y of State

Secretary of State — that’s a position we often don’t pay attention to till election time rolls around and we realize we’re stuck with a Republican who has abused the position to disenfranchise minorities and suppress voters’ rights — Georgia, we’re lookin’ at you! Georgia, where Brian Kemp, who “won” (yeah, we do mean cheated and stole) the governor’s race against Stacey Abrams before resigning as Secretary of State (SoS).

Well, it’s time to pay attention! Democrat John Barrow is in a runoff election against Republican State Representative Brad Raffensperger to replace Kemp as the Georgia SoS on December 4, 2018. And even if you don’t live there, you can help ensure that the era of disenfranchisement ends now.

What you can do:

Thank Goodness for Them (And You)

Last year at this time we compiled a list of people and things that had the United States’s back in 2017. Keeping the tradition going, here’s our 2018 list of groups that helped Indivisible East Bay do our work, and that stood out for us as special heroes over the past crazy year. As we said last year: this list isn’t exhaustive- it’s not even close – but it’s a starting point.

Local Heroes

Though much of IEB’s work is done online (thanks, Slack!), we welcome the opportunity to join together IRL at meetings, actions, and events …  Since we’re not getting Koch $$ or Putin rubles, and our Soros-checks all bounced, we often rely on the kindness of local businesses and institutions. Big thank-yous to:

  • Sports Basement, Berkeley: for providing free meeting space at the coolest sports emporium in the Bay Area!
  • Cat Town, Oakland: for supporting democracy (and our phone banks!) while finding homes for kitties
  • Robinson House Consultants – especially Cassandra Benjamin, Oakland: for opening up their beautiful office space to IEB for our mega phone+text bank The Last Weekend Get Out The Vote efforts

Please patronize these terrific businesses, and tell them THANKS for helping IEB #resist!

Fellow Fighters: In the Election and in the Long Run

Some of these organizations were on last year’s list and some are new partners for us; some were formed just for the midterm elections, some we began working with during the midterm elections but they’ve been around since Current Occupant took office, and some address problems that predate 45. In the end, we decided to put all these organizations together, because – big picture – we’re all in the fight together.

  •  Black Voters Matter: As their website says, “effective voting allows a community to determine its own destiny.” IEB was proud to partner with BVM in text-banking at our GOTV efforts.
  • Democracy Action: Kudos for organizing so many resistance events, and gratitude for including ours on their list!
  • East Bay for TJ: The pundits said TJ Cox could never unseat David Valadao in CA-21. Our sources on the ground said differently. The race was initially called for Valadao but they’re still counting the ballots and the margin keeps narrowing.
  • Election Protection: ​This national, nonpartisan coalition, made up of more than 100 local, state and national partners, works year-round to advance and defend the right to vote.
  • Evolve CA: If you’ve attended IEB’s CA-11 team or All Member Meetings, you’ve heard about these local grassroots organizers who aim to reform Proposition 13. You’ll hear more from them!
  •  Flip the 14: Flip the 14 targeted – you guessed it – fourteen Congressional districts in the 2018 midterms. From their website: “Flip the 14 is working to strengthen the work of the Resistance throughout California.”
  • Indivisible Northern Nevada: A mighty force, they involved IEB in their Issue Voters Project, which helped make Nevada part of the Blue Wave.
  • Postcards to Voters: An online resource allowing activists to send handwritten reminders to targeted voters giving Democrats a winning edge in close, key races coast to coast. Prepare to be boggled: over 59,000 volunteers, in every state, and close to 4 million postcards to voters in over 130 key, close elections.
  • Resistance Labs: Making our list for the second year, this organization created by Oaklanders recruits virtual activists fighting the worst of Donald Trump’s agenda.
  • Vote Forward: They helped flip the House by sending letters – actual snail mail! – to unlikely voters.

All of You and Everything You’ve Done

We said it last year, and it’s more true than ever this year:

We are thankful for every phone call, every postcard, every difficult conversation with a loved one, every protest, every sign, every idea, every atom of energy you gave to our resistance this year. Despite how difficult it’s been, despite the psychic and social horror of it all, we have won far more often than we have lost. Our successes and our continued defense of the United States is down to you, your families, and your communities. Sincerely and with the deepest hope for our next year: thank you.

Graphic of ASL sign for “I love you” by John Hain

We REALLY did it! IEB and the Blue Wave

We did it!

That was the cry — half delight, half relief — that all progressives expressed on Election Day 2018 … when it became clear that the Democrats would retake control of the House of Representatives.

But those of us in Indivisible East Bay could have more accurately exclaimed: “We really did it!” That’s because, over the final months of the campaign season, we engaged in a major push of canvassing, phone-banking and text-banking, all with the goal of flipping several key Republican positions. When the dust settled (which took almost two weeks to do, with one race still undecided), the results proved how spectacularly effective we had been.

IEB canvassing in Sanger for TJ Cox
Carl, Fiona & Ted canvassing in Sanger for TJ Cox – that’s TJ between Ted and Fiona!

To see for yourself, take a look at what happened in five important races where IEB put muscle into flipping seats from red to blue (note: races listed with CA- followed by a number were for the US House of Representatives; the number is the Congressional district):

  • Josh Harder, CA-10. We worked hard for this Congressional seat in CA-10, the flippable district geographically closest to the Bay Area. IEB members phone and text banked, and some traveled to the district to canvass. Initial results had Republican Jeff Denham, the incumbent for the past two election cycles, in the lead — and pundits were already giving up on Harder. But the race remained officially “too close to call.” Then on the Friday after Election Day, with mail-in and provisional ballots skewing Democratic, Harder pulled ahead and stayed there — resulting in a huge upset victory. The margin was narrow (50.9% to 49.1%) but we won!
  • TJ Cox, CA-21. If the current vote margins don’t change, this nailbiter may be a heartbreaker. Spurred on by Team Blue Wave Contra Costa organizer Kook Huber, IEB strongly committed to getting TJ Cox elected as CA-21’s representative to Congress, a rural heavily-Latino Central California district where Republican David Valadao is the incumbent. We canvassed in this district as much as or more than anywhere else. The race was unofficially called for Valadao on election night, but ballots still continue to be counted and the lead narrowed and keeps narrowing. While still considered a long shot, there is a real chance for Cox to pull out a victory. Currently, Cox is less than 1,000 votes behind Valadao, with around 22,000 votes still to be counted. Whatever the final outcome, there is reason to feel good about this race. In 2016, Valadao bested his Democratic opponent by 13 percentage points; this time around, the difference should be razor thin, perhaps within 100 votes! We’re headed in the right direction.
  • Harley Rouda, CA-48. This was perhaps the biggest shocker — and most welcome — of all the California races. Republican incumbent Dana Rohrabacher has represented this deeply red Southern California district for three decades! Known for his pro-Russia views and solid support for Trump, he was at the top of the list of Representatives we most wanted to oust. IEB sent postcards, text-banked and phone banked on behalf of challenger Democrat Harley Rouda. It worked! In the end, Rouda bested Rohrabacher by more than 5 percentage points. Postscript: With victory now declared for Gil Cisneros, the Democrats have swept all seven Orange County House seats!
  • Jacky Rosen, Senate, Nevada. IEB was approached by our sister Indivisible, Indivisible Northern Nevada, which asked us to join their highly organized Issue Voters Project focusing on Washoe County, which encompasses Reno. Led by IEB’s outreach team co-lead Toni Henle, we made a huge push via phone-banking and especially with canvassing, including knocking on doors in Reno for the final weekend before the election. The result was incredible: Washoe County, formerly solid red, turned blue and went for Rosen over incumbent Dean Heller by 4 percentage points! It was the key result that led to Rosen’s ultimate state-wide victory. Making the win even sweeter, this was a race where Trump got personally involved, derisively referring to Rosen as “Wacky Jacky.”
  • Kyrsten Sinema, Senate, Arizona. A Hollywood screenwriter couldn’t have scripted a more thrilling ending to this race. In Arizona, a traditionally red but increasingly purple state, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema was challenging GOP candidate Martha McSally for the Senate seat currently held by the retiring Jeff Flake. Democrats believed they had a real shot to win this. But on the first days after the election, the situation looked grim as McSally built a seemingly insurmountable lead of more than 20,000 votes. Then came the surprise. By Monday November 13, after mail-in votes were tallied, a stunning reversal occurred. With a turn-around lead of more than 38,000 votes, Sinema was declared the victor — despite Trump’s and the GOP’s attempts to muddy the waters with baseless claims of voter fraud. This is huge! Sinema will become the first Democratic Senator from Arizona since the 1980’s. Once again, IEB contributed to this success via several phone-banking events.
Phone banking for Kyrsten Sinema
Phone banking for Kyrsten Sinema

The bottom-line message couldn’t be more clear: what we do can make a difference. It definitely did make a difference in 2018. But there remains much work to be done. There’s still time to help Mike Espy win the Senate seat in the Mississippi special runoff election on November 27. And it’s not too early to start building the Blue Wave that will take out Trump in 2020.

Help Mike Espy win 11/27 special election

Deadline: today and through November 27 –

Surprise! Election season 2018 isn’t over! On November 27, 2018, Democrats have a chance to win a special election for the US Senate seat vacated by Thad Cochran in Mississippi. Representative Mike Espy, former Agriculture Secretary under Bill Clinton, is running against Trump-endorsed Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith, who replaced Cochran on an interim basis.

Espy, who would be Mississippi’s first African-American Senator since Reconstruction, is running as a moderate Democrat. He has stated his support for an increased minimum wage, paid family leave, expanding funding for Medicaid and CHIP, and women’s health initiatives and the right to choose.

We’re organizing events and publicizing other groups’ efforts to support Espy’s run because this is a chance to narrow the Senate’s partisan divide and hopefully force the GOP to the table on more issues. Below is information about our events and other ways you can get involved on your own. Please keep an eye on this post, our website, and the newsletter as we continue to organize to win this seat!

What you can do:

How do you spell success? TLW-GOTMFV

How do you spell “success”? Let me rephrase that: How do you spell “spectacular success”?

The answer is: TLW — as in Indivisible East Bay’s spectacularly successful “The Last Weekend” TLW GOTMFV Palooza. Organized by IEB Governance Committee (GC) member Nancy Latham, with generous and hard-working assistance from numerous other IEB members, the event offered Get Out The Vote phone and text banking, mobilizing voters by district, by issue, and by demographic in critical races across the country.

More than a hundred of us (of YOU!) hunkered down each day from 9 AM to 9 PM on the Last Weekend before the election, November 3rd and 4th, at a house in Oakland’s beautiful Preservation Park. We’d hoped anyone who wasn’t off canvassing in Reno or another California district would show up, but the actual tally blew our estimates away. Volunteers kept coming from all over the East Bay, and by the end over 160 people, many of whom were connecting with IEB for the first time, joined our ranks. And we (YOU!) contacted thousands and thousands of voters!

GC member Nancy
GC member Nancy training a new texter

Some of the many heroes who made the complex event go smoothly: GC member and Senate teams co-lead Linh made sure the over-taxed Wi-Fi network stayed functional, and GC member and newsletter editor Ann offered friendly and helpful greetings at the door (for 9 hours each day!) Many other IEB members provided instant training sessions to first-timers as well as all other support. And a cornucopia of food and drinks helped fuel the massive effort — almost all supplied by donations from IEB members.

GC member Ann
GC member Ann, with earrings made from “I voted by mail” stickers

Did it make a difference? We are confident it did. But you can decide for yourself. Here are just two examples of the many anecdotes we received from volunteers:

One young volunteer was on the phone with someone who wasn’t planning on voting because she was convinced her vote wouldn’t count. The volunteer explained how she used to think the same thing. But then 2016 happened. She talked about the fact that no matter what happened, if she voted, she could feel good about doing her part. The person began to soften but was still concerned that she didn’t know anything about the candidates. So the volunteer gave the person some URLs with candidate information and they looked at them together. By the end of the call, the woman said she would vote!

GC member Nick
GC member Nick text banking

Another volunteer relayed the following: “I called a woman in CA-21, the district that TJ Cox was running in, and asked about her mail-in ballot, because it looked as if she hasn’t sent it back yet. First she said she never received it; then she went through her mail and found it. She wasn’t sure she had time to fill it out, but I talked to her about how important this election is, and how great a guy TJ is — that he will put country over party. I gave her information on where to go to vote and told her she didn’t have to fill out every part of the ballot (she was intimidated by its length)! By the time we got off the phone, I could tell she was smiling and she promised to fill it out and drop it off!”

Nancy Latham contributed to this article, including the top photograph. Other photos by Ted Landau.

 

Text Out the Vote

Deadline: today and every day until November 6 –

We gave you the lowdown on canvassing and phone banking, the most effective Get Out The Vote (GOTV) tools. Next up, and ideal if you can’t travel to a flippable district or make phone calls: peer-to-peer text banking!

Texting voters is effective, fast, and flexible. You can do it on your phone, computer, or tablet. And best of all, you can fit it into your busy schedule — during breaks at work, riding on BART, any time you’ve got a few free minutes. 

There are different texting platforms, but the basics are similar: sign up, read the instructions, join the platform’s Slack channel (a chat room where you interact with team managers and fellow texters), and log into the platform. Finally, follow directions to choose a workflow and request to be added.

For most platforms you can text from your phone using an app, or from your computer by logging into a website. Both have initial messages you’ll send out; after that you’ll reply to people who respond, using canned answers tailored for each workflow. You’ll also apply certain tags to help the organizers know how to proceed with each person texted. 

Here are some great choices to dive in and start texting for The Blue Wave!

IndivisiText

Indivisible National’s texting team, IndivisiText, uses the common texting app and website Hustle, which works either on a phone or computer. To get started:

  • Read the texting training guide
  • Take this quiz, then follow the instructions to join Hustle and IndivisiText’s Slack
  • Check the IndivisiText Hustle campaign tracker to see what’s available each day (9 AM to 9 PM local time where you’re texting), join one of the open channels, and post that you completed the quiz
  • Post in the campaign Slack channel you choose from the tracker, and tag a moderator to say you completed the quiz
  • Open the Hustle app or website and start texting! Post questions on Slack, where the moderators are great about responding
  • IndivisiText automatically reassigns to another texter to conversations that are inactive for about 20 minutes, so along with replying to the people you texted, you’ll also help out by following up for others.

Resistance Labs

Resistance Labs (RL) also uses the Hustle texting interface and communicates via Slack and a private facebook group

  • Sign up here and follow the directions at RL’s New Volunteer Training
  • See the Workflow Instructions, and once you’re set up, for new workflows fill out the Shift Sign-Up form
  • See the RL Texter Help Center here
  • Note that on RL only you can reply to responses from the people you’ve texted, so make sure to check frequently. 

MoveOn 

Moveon.org’s texting team uses Spoke rather than Hustle, and also has its own Slack chat room to organize requests for workflows and support. You can learn more and join the team here.

VoteWithMe app

Finally, want to personalize your texting along with reaching out to strangers? The VoteWithMe app uses public records and your own network to pinpoint the highest impact potential voters whom you already know. You choose who to text, and you can personalize a suggested reminder to make sure they vote. Read more about using this very effective app to motivate your friends to vote in our article.

 

The Bottom Line:

Don’t want to wake up on November 7, 2018 and feel like you did on November 9, 2016? If you haven’t done any canvassing, phone banking or text banking yet, the time is NOW. If you have, it’s time to DO MORE!

GOTV with VoteWithMe app

Text banking is a popular way to help Get Out the Vote (GOTV). People like it because it’s quick, easy and you can do it from anywhere. But maybe you’re not comfortable sending messages to a bunch of strangers, or not convinced it has much effect. Enter VoteWithMe, a free phone app that automates the process of text banking to people you know — the friends and colleagues in your address book. The rationale, according to the app’s developers, is that “people are more likely to vote if a friend asks them to.”

Here’s how the app works. With your permission, VoteWithMe imports all the people in your contacts list. You can click on any name and get the person’s publicly available voting data. For example, you can see if the person is a registered Democrat or if they voted in the last few elections. You may find a few surprises — such as discovering that your next-door neighbor is a life-long Republican. I know of no other way to so easily access such data. It may feel a bit like snooping, but it’s all public info, completely legal — and kind of fun! 

VoteWithMe also provides key information — who’s running and who’s predicted to win — for the major elections (House, Senate, Governor) for each of your contacts, no matter where they live.

Via filters, you can limit the list of displayed contacts — such as showing only people who are Democrats and live in locations where there are currently “tight” races. You can use this to zero in on the people you believe are most critical to contact. VoteWithMe uses the non-partisan Cook Report to assess what seats are conceivably flippable.

Once you’re ready, VoteWithMe provides the text message itself, which you can personalize if you want, either reminding your friend to vote or (if they have a strong record of previously voting) asking them to download VoteWithMe and use it to remind others to vote. As to privacy concerns, VoteWithMe will never access anyone on your list independently of when you choose to do so.

Bottom line: You might be interested in VoteWithMe for the election information it provides. That’s fine. However, that’s not its purpose. VoteWithMe is primarily intended for sending GOTV text messages to the progressives in your contact list. The election is only days away — but it’s not too late for this app to help build the blue wave!

VoteWithMe app
VoteWithMe provides voting data and election information — to assist in sending text messages to your contacts.