This post originally appeared on OTYCD in January 2018.
Find out which of your state legislators might be up for re-election, and see whether you can support them in 2018.
2018 is a busy year, with elections happening on the federal, state, and local levels. You should check and see which of your state legislators might be up for re-election.
First, you need to find the names of your state senator and state house rep if you don’t know them already. Go to:
…plug in your address and zip code, and voila! The search engine will give you the names of your state senator and state house rep, plus their Wikipedia entries, email addresses, web sites, social media contacts, and the like.
Once you have their names (unlike Congress, you probably have just one state senator, not two), go to Ballotpedia:
…and search on “<Your State> State Senate” and then “<Your State> State House of Representatives”.
Locate the column on the right, look for the line about term limits, and see how long your state’s legislative terms last. State legislatures don’t necessarily mirror the patterns of Congress. For example, terms of office in the New York state legislature are two years for both state senators and state house reps.
If your state legislature holds elections every two years, chances are your state legislators are up for re-election in 2018.
Now go to the websites of your state senator and state house rep. Read about them. Google them. Look each person up on Ballotpedia. See what’s been written about them and about their votes in the state legislature. Are they doing what you want? Do they reflect your values?
As you do this work, remember that while liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats are extinct on the federal level, they still exist at the state level. A ‘D’ next to a name is not an indicator of quality, and an ‘R’ should not automatically turn you off. You have to spend some time digging into your state legislators’ platforms and voting records to figure out if they’re people you can back.
If they are people you can back, sit down and figure out how to slot them into your volunteering schedule and your political donation budget. If you’ve really got the political bug, you might want to prioritize helping a state legislator–they’re more accessible than Congressional incumbents and candidates.
If your state legislators aren’t people you can support, go back to the whoaremyrepresentatives.org results or look your legislators’ names up on Ballotpedia. Both sources will give you the names of the districts each represents.
Then Google “Candidates <Whatever District You Live In>” or “Candidates running against <incumbent you don’t like> for <name of your home district>”. That might yield names of others who are running against your state legislators in 2018.
Don’t be surprised if nothing comes up, however. It’s fairly common for state legislators to run unopposed.
If you don’t like the incumbent and you don’t like the challengers (or there aren’t any challengers), why not consider running? No, really? Why not?
But if that’s a bridge too far, you could contact Flippable and see if it’s on the case, or you could talk about what you learned at your next Indivisible meeting and try to recruit someone else to run.
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