These are the 8 most important races in the upcoming midterms

With everyone focusing on the national congressional races in the midterm elections that will help determine the balance of power in Washington DC, it’s sometimes easy to forget how important races on the state level truly are. People underestimate who much the control of state governments can affect the national political landscape, but the recent trends of extreme partisan gerrymandering and voter suppression demonstrate just how crucial state laws and regulations can be in determining the outcome of significant national elections and issues.

While you would think that after Republicans made significant inroads in their control of statehouses across the country in the past decade while playing a strategic long-game, the Democrats would step up to the plate with a concerted effort to fight to wrest control of these crucial battlegrounds, the activists at Data For Progress, an independent progressive Democratic think tank, found out that the party had no one minding the store on this strategic front.

Thus, according to an article on The Intercept, Data For Progress came up with and executed the kind of well-thought out plan that the Democratic National Committee failed to conceive of on it’s own. The group looked at which state legislatures would generate the most national impact by a change of party control and then tried to determine which race within the state would be most likely to tip control of the legislature to the Democrats.

Whenever they faced a close call as to which race might me most impactful, “they looked for the seats occupied by the most ghoulish Republicans, such as Arizona state Sen. Sylvia Allen, who is best known for legislation she authored to relax laws aimed at prison guards who pressure inmates into sex, after her son-in-law, a prison guard, was accused of doing just that,” according to The Intercept.

Using data like the protagonists of Moneyball, Data For Progress chose eight candidates to promote on Twitter as the most intelligent choices for progressives to donate to if they wanted their contributions to have the maximum impact on state races that will affect politics on a national level, in a campaign that they’ve dubbed Give Smart.

The candidates they chose include:

  • Wade Carlisle, an Arizona Senate candidate;
  • Janet Cruz, a Florida Senate candidate;
  • Nancy Fett, an Iowa House candidate;
  • James Gaughran, a New York Senate candidate;
  • Alberta Griffin, a Michigan House candidate;
  • Julie Henszey, a Wisconsin Senate candidate; 
  • Tammy Story, a Colorado Senate candidate; and
  • Kristin Bahner, a Minnesota House candidate.

Contributors to the Give Smart program can opt to split their donations equally eight ways, or they can allocate whatever they want to each of the candidates.

The money brought into these state-level races can have a significant impact on the amount of advertising the campaigns can run and the number of staff they can hire to canvass neighborhoods and get out the vote.

Kristin Bahner, the Minnesota recipient of the Give Smart-inspired donations, saw the effort as a godsend to her electoral effort.

“Candidly, in some measure, it sort of restored my faith in humanity and democracy,” she told The Intercept after thousands of dollars poured into her campaign coffers. “I just feel incredibly, overwhelmingly blessed,” Bahner said. “That to me is the epitome of what truly makes America great.”

It’s not too late for you to donate to the Give Smart fundraising efforts and help Democrats retake control of crucial state governments. Go to the Data For Progress website to learn more about how you can help. While the DNC may seem like they are asleep at the wheel, thankfully organizations like this are stepping in to fill the breach and power Democrats towards a blue wave on both the local and the national level in next month’s elections.

Vinnie Longobardo

is the Managing Editor of Washington Press and a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile, & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music, and art.