Jumpstart Election 2020 in CA-21

Indivisible East Bay members worked along with East Bay for TJ and many others in 2018 to flip California Congressional District 21 from Republican to Democrat, and TJ Cox won by approximately 900 votes due to these extensive outreach efforts. East Bay for TJ isn’t resting on its laurels; they’re now establishing partnerships with groups in CA-21 to help them build the progressive base for 2020 and beyond.

You can help! Join East Bay for TJ’s June 7-9 weekend organizing canvass.

    • What: one of the first priorities is the Kings County Voter Engagement Project, with the objective of building the progressive base in Hanford and the rest of Kings County.
    • When: from 6 PM on Friday, June 7​​ to 1 PM on Sunday, June 9  — come for all or any part of the weekend.
    • ​Where: the canvass kickoff site will be in Hanford, at a location to be determined.
    • Housing: East Bay for TJ anticipates that there will be some free or very low cost housing with local supporters. 

To get more info about the location and housing option, or if you have any questions, or to sign up, contact the East Bay for TJ organizers via email to Mary Boergers or to Jim Roberts.

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

Celebrating TJ Cox’s CA-21 Victory

By Alice Towey and Ted Lam

More than 150 activists joined TJ Cox and his family on December 9 to celebrate his nail-biting win of the California District 21 (CA-21) Congressional seat, called nearly a month after the election. The party, crammed into the Alameda home of Mary McFarland, a tireless organizer from East Bay for TJ, included several Indivisible East Bay members. 

IEB was part of the Congressional District 21 (CD-21) Action Coalition steering committee, made up representatives from many local progressive groups brought together by the amazing Kook Huber in early 2018. Several of us from the CA-11 United team represented IEB at the celebration: Alice Towey, Matt Blackwell, and Ted Lam and his son. Although most of us at the large gathering hadn’t met many other people there in person, we’d emailed, texted, messaged, and Slacked one another for most of the year as we worked to get TJ’s message out to CA-21 voters. And many IEB members phone and text banked, postcarded, and canvassed for TJ in the Central Valley from the March before the primaries through October.

Matt, Alice, Kook and Ted at TJ Cox celebration party
Matt, Alice, Kook and Ted at TJ Cox celebration party

TJ, Kathy, and their two teenage sons arrived early and were mobbed by well-wishers. Eventually, they made it into the living room where East Bay for TJ leaders spoke about the hard work that went into the campaign. Chills went up and down our spines as, one after the other, speakers spoke movingly about why they got involved. On a lighter note, a running joke during the party was that one woman, Carol, would finally get her husband Jim back: Jim spent nearly a year and a half in CA-21, laying the groundwork for the eventual Democratic candidate. On one of the living room tables was a picture of Carol holding a sign: “Free Jim!”

When TJ got the mic he opened on a humorous note. He said that since his was the final Congressional race called, he was asked to speak to the entire House Democratic caucus, and joked that with his election the Republican delegation from California could now fit in his wife Kathy’s 7-passenger minivan. He also mentioned that his late win allowed him to score a great office — since soon-to-be former Representative David Valadao waited so long to concede, his office was not in the pool to go to incoming House members, so TJ gets Valadao’s spacious office with a great view.

TJ Cox celebration party, photo by Mary McFarland
TJ Cox celebration party, photo by Mary McFarland

Turning serious, TJ spoke about some of his motivations to run for Congress, including his wife Kathy, who as a pediatric physician feels that health policy must change at the federal level. He spoke about climate change, immigration reform, and the need to bring safe, clean drinking water to all Central Valley residents.  TJ said that he wants his future constituents to see themselves reflected in their representatives, and announced that he got a commitment from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to visit his district in 2019. 

At the party our CA-11 team chatted with Dave from the San Leandro group Kitchen Table Resistance. We vividly recalled Dave and his wife Jen canvassing in Mendota over Saint Patrick’s Day weekend, when Dave wore a green Leprechaun jacket! Dave gave us the backstory about the hard work he and his friends in Kitchen Table Resistance put into canvassing in CA-21, including developing (and spending a lot of their own funds to print) flyers in English and Spanish to inform voters about TJ in the first weeks of the campaign. We all reflected that this was way before the “professionals” got their act together to support TJ’s campaign.

Matt and Alice even got a chance to speak personally with TJ! When we congratulated TJ on his victory, he looked around at all the people there and commented that it was a team effort.

Matt and Alice with TJ Cox, at the celebration party
Matt and Alice with TJ Cox, at the celebration party

Leaving the party, we all had the same thought, “What a journey and what incredible friendships we made along the way!”

Alice Towey is a Civil Engineer specializing in water resource management. She lives in El Cerrito, where she and her husband Matt Blackwell are active in Indivisible CA-11 United.

Ted Lam is retired from the USCG and currently works as a civil engineer. Ted is a member of the Indivisible East Bay Governance Committee and is co-lead of the Indivisible CA-11 team.

 

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

Pleasanton Turns Up to Postcard

IEB Ale and Mail Postcard Party in Pleasanton
IEB Ale & Mail Postcard Party in Pleasanton – photo by Ryan Wilson

By Ward Kanowsky

Over 40 enthusiastic attendees from three progressive organizations participated in a very successful postcarding event on August 25 at The Hopyard Alehouse in Pleasanton.  Members from Indivisible East Bay, Livermore Indivisible, and the Tri-Valley Women’s March Action Group pumped out 374 postcards in support of TJ Cox’s candidacy for California’s 21st Congressional District, where he is challenging incumbent Rep. David Valadao. Mary McFarland from East Bay for TJ Cox shared that TJ has an engineering background and owns two agricultural businesses in the Central Valley.

There were also many constituents of Rep. Eric Swalwell at the event, and they wrote additional postcards to the Congressperson urging him to reach across the aisle to his colleagues who are not for the Farm Bill and tell them how important the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is to so many families in CA-15.

While Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight website shows a 64% chance of Valadao losing to a Democrat, outreach still needs to be made to voters in the area. Hillary Clinton carried CA-21 by 15 points, but incumbent Valadao beat Cox in the June primary by 14,000 votes. If you are interested in helping out, visit East Bay for TJ Cox to see how you can get involved.

Want to find out more about, or join, IEB’s CA-15 team? Email us or contact @ward on Slack.

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