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Seize This Opportunity

Recruit Now So That We Run Everywhere

Recent polls on Trump are brutal, with more than 60% saying they won’t vote for him in a general election.

Recent elections in Ohio and Wisconsin confirm that the far right’s toxic brew of extremist policies and attacks on democracy are also deeply unpopular. Absolute losers at the polls.

What do all these numbers and results spell?





But we only seize that opportunity if we run everywhere. Because running everywhere means exposing their extremism everywhere while lifting our own message and turnout everywhere.

And that is definitely not something we’ve been doing of late. In fact, we have been leaving extremists and their unpopular policies unchallenged before tens of millions of voters.

Here’s a chart from my book “Saving Democracy” detailing just how much of a crisis this is. These are the percentages of GOP reps who ran uncontested in the most recent statehouse elections in red states:

Look at the numbers closely. As I did the research, I kept double-checking to make sure I wasn’t missing something. Surely, the numbers can’t be this bad.

But they are!

In the book, I walk through all the damage this scale of unchecked extremism renders to our country and its democracy.

But at this moment, if we let it happen again in ‘24, what it represents is a huge missed opportunity in all these states. Because so many of these candidates have absolutely toxic records. And we’d be making an enormous mistake to give them another round of free passes.

I devoted a long chapter in my book to solving this crisis—to grab the opportunity their extremism opens for us. And its theme is that we have to scale up an infrastructure that values running everywhere. To get there, we must grow organizations like the States Project, Run for Something, Blue Ohio/Missouri/Texas, Contest Every District, etc, so that they occupy a central, core mission role in how we engage in pro-democracy politics. And of course party structures at all levels need to adjust what they are doing as well.

But the effort starts at an even more basic level: and that is individual Americans across the country taking ownership—making a commitment—that they will not allow the district they live in to go uncontested again. That one way or another, they will own the simple goal that a public-minded member of their community (themselves or someone they know) will step up, run, and get the support they need to run a credible campaign.

That’s where it all starts. Individuals taking ownership of democracy where they live.

Far more to say.

But with those polls and recent outcomes making so clear the opportunity before us, and deadlines for filing for office looming months away, let’s not lose sight of this paramount priority.


David Pepper