Democrats are reportedly looking to raise $80 million to fund a three-year “a way-down-the-ballot” effort to find, train, and support candidates for local offices in charge of election administration.
Run for Something, a Democrat candidate recruiting group, is looking to pitch their party’s donors on an effort they call project “Clerk Work.” The three-year program would focus on local elections and help recruit candidates in 35 states. Ultimately, if successful, it would “find, train and support 5,000 candidates for local offices in charge of election administration,” Politico reported.
The group launched shortly after former President Donald Trump won the presidential election in the 2016 cycle, and its mission was to recruit candidates for local elections. The effort would be for anything having to do with elections, such as county probate judges, county clerks, and county election board members.
The group now wants to expand its efforts leading up to the 2024 presidential election, which is why the group will pitch its idea to donors, Politico noted.
[A]s Trump continues to promulgate election conspiracy theories, the role of little-known election administrators — charged with planning, implementing and certifying election results in a hyper-localized system — has suddenly emerged as a key part of safeguarding American democracy. The move is part of a broader Democratic Party shift toward increasingly prioritizing state-based races, a shift from the massive attention and financing that go toward federal campaigns.
The program will include every state where election administrators are themselves elected by voters. It represents one of the boldest organized attempts to put Democratic-backed candidates in these positions, in response to Trump’s endorsement for various election positions of followers who subscribe to conspiracy theories that the 2020 election was stolen. Other Republicans are organizing around these offices as well, including former Trump aide Steve Bannon, who has urged Trump backers and 2020 election deniers on his podcast to get involved in party politics and “take this back … precinct by precinct.”
Much of the pitch builds off of Run for Something’s five years of experience supporting local candidates from campaign launch to Election Day. The group offers logistical support, like how to file campaign finance paperwork, as well as templates for campaign strategy. Run for Something also connects candidates with mentors, as well as other current candidates, to create a sense of community around running for office.
Currently, the group has partnered with other groups like American Bridge, a Democrat opposition research firm, and Open Democracy PAC, a super PAC that is helping boost the group’s candidates in their efforts.
“Election subversion in 2024 is not going to be a mob storming the Capitol, it’s going to be a county clerk in Michigan or a supervisor of elections in Florida who decides to fuck the whole thing up,” said Amanda Litman, one of Run for Something’s co-founders. “The only way to make long-term democracy protection is by electing people who will defend democracy.”
The group has already raised nearly $6 million for its new efforts after having a slow fundraising start since late last year.
A memo to donors on the effort explained that “The left is decades behind in investing in the local infrastructure needed to fight back against emerging anti-democracy forces on the right.”
“Taking over our election administration infrastructure at the local level is our last best option. If we want to win, we need to go big quickly,” the memo added.
One Democrat operative told Politico, “It’s almost a travesty this has to be done because they should be doing it, but they’re not,” pointing out that the program would be filling a void left by the Democrat National Committee (DNC) and other state groups affiliated with the national party.