Politics & Government

‘Voting isn’t enough.’ Liberal groups band together to recruit volunteers

A coalition of liberal groups on Wednesday is launching a massive get-out-the-vote effort aimed at helping Democratic candidates during the last days of 2018 midterm election, hoping to give them a final push as the party tries to take the House majority and win a slew of competitive statewide races.

Organizers say the effort, which they are dubbing “The Last Weekend,” will attempt to recruit the largest grassroots army ever assembled before a midterm election — one that will not just vote for Democratic candidates but volunteer for their campaigns. Those who sign up would begin volunteering the Saturday before the election, a critical late juncture for the campaign.

“The stakes are so high that voting isn’t enough,” said Ethan Todras-Whitehill, executive director and co-founder of Swing Left, which is organizing the effort. “You’ve got to do more. The new bar is not just voting, but volunteering in key races that matter for determining control of the government.”

Todras-Whitehill said he hopes to receive a commitment of a million hours from volunteers, time that would be spent contacting other voters and encouraging them to vote.

The Last Weekend is collaboration among nearly two dozen liberal groups, including MoveOn.org, Indivisible, and the Democratic Attorneys General Association. Such a joint-project is unusual in politics, where special-interest groups usually operate separately from one another.

But organizers said the election’s importance — driven by the deep antipathy many Democrats and liberals have toward President Donald Trump — makes the collaboration both natural and necessary.

“I can’t think of another time where you had this diverse array of progressive organizations coming together the last weekend before an election,” said Cristobal Alex, presidential Latino Victory, which is part of the effort. “Not just to get out the vote, but to mobilize an army of super volunteers ahead of the vote.”

Volunteers — many of them members of the organizations that have banded together — would help Democratic candidates up and down the ballot, from attorney general candidates to nominees for governor. Latino Victory Project would direct its supporters to help candidates the group has endorsed, Alex said, including House candidates in general election battlegrounds.

Democrats eyeing November’s election are counting on the enthusiasm of their liberal base, hoping that energized turnout can help them overcome Republican opposition in even deep-red areas. The party must gain 23 seats in the House to win a majority.

Grassroots leaders such as Todras-Whitehill say the party needs to take advantage of the most deeply energized part of its base.

“For the people who really want to change the direction of the country, we need those people to count for more than just a vote in their district,” he said. “We need them to volunteer for campaigns to make this happen.”