This post originally ran on OTYCD in December 2019. We’re rerunning it at least once a month leading up to the 2020 fall election because Dangit, It’s Important!
Choose your Core Four*–two Democratic senators and two Democratic house reps, an incumbent and a challenger for each chamber–to support to in 2020. PLUS, choose a voting rights organization to support as well.
From late 2016 until now, we’ve been going to bat for Democratic candidates in individual special elections. Usually, we’ve supported one Democrat at a time.
2018 was a big test of our collective resolve. We did well. The work we put in helped shift control of the House of Representatives to the Democrats. Had we failed, Trump would be steaming ahead unchecked. But we didn’t, and he’s now only the third impeached president in American history. (As of this writing, he is awaiting trial in the Senate.)
Literally hundreds of races–35 senators (33 plus two special elections), and all 435 House reps–are taking place, and all of them will end on November 3, 2020.
We need to fight to keep control of the House of Representatives (likely, but hey, never treat anything as a certainty), and we have a shot at wresting control of the Senate away from Mitch McConnell and the GOP (tough, but doable).
We at OTYCD suggest that you prepare for what’s coming by choosing your “Core Four”–four Democratic candidates who will receive the bulk of your efforts–PLUS an organization that actively supports and defends the right to vote.
Your Core Four Plus Should Include:
Two Democrats for the House of Representatives.
Two Democrats for the Senate.
One incumbent and one challenger for each chamber of Congress.
How to Pick Your Core Four
There’s no right way or wrong way to choose your Core Four, but we suggest starting in your own backyard, with the members of Congress who represent your state.
If you don’t know who your members of Congress are, go to this website and plug your street address into the search engine:
…then research the three names–one House rep and two Senators–that come up.
Do you have a good Democratic House Rep? Then embrace him or her.
Do you have a lousy House Rep, or is your district’s seat being vacated? Look up the Democratic challengers for the seat and choose one. Look to Ballotpedia.org for help with finding challengers in your federal district.
One-third of all senators will be up for re-election in 2020, and there will be two special elections also: One in Arizona, for the seat to which Martha McSally was appointed following the death of John McCain; and one in Georgia, to fill the seat vacated by Johnny Isakson.
It’s possible that at least one of your senators (and possibly both) is due to run (but scroll down for a list of states where neither senator has to run).
Is one or both of your senators up for re-election? Are they good Dems? If so, embrace them and get behind them.
Is your senator who’s running for re-election a lousy senator? Learn about the Democratic challengers for the seat, and be ready to help a challenger however you can. As always, Ballotpedia.org is your friend here.
Your help can take the form of time, money, word of mouth, or some combination of the three. But you need to choose your four Democrats, and you need to think seriously about how you will juggle the needs of all four, plus the voting rights organization.
You’ll need to sit down and plot this out as you might plot a semester’s course schedule in college. The demands of the four candidates will overlap and they’ll all come due at the same time–in the weeks and days leading up to November 3, 2020. You’ll also have to factor in appointments and life events of your own, too, of course.
Choosing your Core Four: A Test Case
Let’s say you live in California.
Your House Rep is up for re-election because they all are. Is yours a good Democrat? Then you have your House incumbent settled.
If your House Rep is not a good Democrat, or is a lousy Republican, or is retiring, check Ballotpedia and see who’s challenging for the seat.
Let’s assume for the sake of this example that your House Rep is a good Dem. There’s one of your four settled.
Now look for a challenger who’s aiming to take a terrible House Republican out.
How about Tedra Cobb? She hopes to push freshman House Rep Elise Stefanik out of New York’s 21st Congressional District. Stefanik, you will recall, made a fool of herself by going Full Metal Trumpista during the House of Representatives impeachment inquiry at the tail of 2019. Decent choice. Allocate time and money to Cobb. There. You’ve chosen your two House Dems, one incumbent and one challenger.
Now turn to the senators. It so happens that neither of the incumbent senators from California are up for re-election in 2020. You are free to devote your resources elsewhere.
Doug Jones of Alabama is up in 2020, and he’s regarded as the most vulnerable sitting Democratic Senator. How about you get behind him?
Now look for a candidate who hopes to push out a terrible sitting Republican Senator. You’re spoiled for choice here, truly. Maybe consider Jaime Harrison, who’s running against Lindsay Graham in South Carolina.
And there’s your Core Four: Your good incumbent Democratic House Rep, Tedra Cobb in New York state, Doug Jones in Alabama, and Jaime Harrison in South Carolina.
Of course, you can choose more than four Congressional candidates to back. But the idea here is to help you focus.
If you can take on more than four candidates, do it. But four is just enough, in our opinion–more than one, but still a number small enough to count on one hand.
Because it’s 2020, and because fighting dirty is kind of the Republican brand now, we’re asking you to pick a Core Four Plus, with the plus being an organization that fights for voting rights. We named three above, but they’re not the only three that are out there. We will devote a separate, periodically updated post that lists voting rights orgs, and we’ll link it here in a few places once it’s ready.
You can certainly look to orgs such as Swing Left, Sister District, Emily’s List, and the like to help you make your choices. The main thing is nowrightnow is the time to think seriously about those choices.
Also, if you live in one of the states listed below, neither of your Senators is up for re-election, and you can devote your resources to incumbents and candidates in other states:
New York state
* Our ‘Core Four’ only covers federal Congress races. You might have other important races happening at the state and local level–for governor, attorney general, mayor, what have you. Please don’t neglect those races.
See the website for Ballotpedia.org:
Visit the website of Swing Left, which focuses on taking back the House of Representatives:
Visit the website of Sister District, which connects you with districts and regions near you with races that could use your support:
Visit the website of Emily’s List, which helps elect pro-choice Democratic women to office:
See OTYCD‘s past posts on picking House Reps and Senators to support in 2018, and on starting a 2018 fund: