Arizona List Strives, And
Parties, To Make AZ Blue
Arizona List Recently Celebrated Its 13th Anniversary And the Organization, Along With Keynote Speaker Kelly Ward, Are Fighting Local Level To Elect Democratic Women Candidates
Interim Executive Director of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee and former Executive Director of the Democratic Congressional Committee, Kelly Ward, appeared at an Arizona List event in March 2017.
By Stephanie Sparer
Modern Times Magazine
March 23, 2017 — March 18 marked the 13th anniversary of Arizona List, a grassroots committee dedicated to helping pro-choice democratic women run for office—and win. Events were held in both Tucson and Phoenix, at the Scottsdale Airport, to celebrate the interns working for the long-running organization, which has had over 70 of them since the committee began in 2004.
However, the real reason anyone showed up to the $100 a ticket cocktail party in Phoenix was to raise money for future promising candidates. Because, as everyone was reminded every 10 minutes with donation envelopes, raffle prizes, and speeches, every dollar counts. So please count yours and hand them over to purchase this Trump Survival Kit (starting silent auction bid: $200).
Arizona List isn’t wrong. The money has to go somewhere, so it may as well go to them. Republicans had a lot of the green stuff in 2010 and used it to reset the system “In secret!” Kelly Ward vehemently shouts to the crowd during her keynote speech. And while having the most money does not always equal victory (Hillary Clinton’s campaign outraised Donald Trump’s by roughly two-to-one during the presidential election), it is clear that massive amounts of money are needed to run a viable campaign.
Arizona List has had a simple but difficult task since its creation: organize and break barriers for women candidates. To date, it is the only Super PAC “solely dedicated to electing women in Arizona,” making it the go-to financial resource for pro-choice Democratic women candidates, according to the organization’s website.
Arizona List believes that a progressive America starts at the grassroot, local level and Saturday’s keynote speaker Ward agrees. The very first intern Arizona List ever had, Ward is currently working as the Interim Executive Director of former President Barack Obama’s National Democratic Redistricting Committee and is the former Executive Director at the Democratic Congressional Committee, so she knows a thing or two about what’s going on in Washington. Ward asserts that right now, Arizona is a special place. “I’ve been to a lot of places,” she said. “The type of community and support Arizona has doesn’t happen everywhere.”
However, she states that this doesn’t excuse the fact that America is “now in crisis.” She doesn’t mention Trump by name, but the atmosphere in the room instantly changes. The crowd knows.
“It’s disgusting!” someone shouts from the audience.
Ward grimaces but nods in solidarity, “It’s scary...This existential crisis feels hard.”
Would it feel easier with a limousine service gift package available to purchase at the party? Probably not. But you might feel better knowing the money goes back to Arizona List.
Maybe. It’s not a tangible solution; we can’t literally fight so it feels a little hopeless. Ward tries to explain that it’s not hopeless at all.
“The right solution lives in us,” Ward said, “A simple solution: get better people in office… new, good people who reflect America!”
It sounds simple, sure, but this plan will be difficult. There are women who will have to fight to be heard over loud Republican money. And that’s where Arizona List’s Super PAC and your money comes in. Campaigns themselves are like horrible children to raise: they have a definite timeline, sometimes they go horribly, and they take tons of time and all your money.
“Nothing matters if it’s not funded,” said Ward. “You need a candidate and they need money and then you gotta talk to voters and to even do that you also need money.”
Money talks. Everyone knows that. Especially now. (See: Current President.)
“Getting good people elected is at the heart of what we have to do. They will stand up against Trump,” said Ward. “Our legislative branch needs to protect us. And it’s hard work.”
As we get better people elected in office, Ward notes that simultaneously we need to fix the system. “It’s a little broken,” she said. “The districts aren’t there. The Republicans cheated their way to power.” In 2010, she explains, Republicans, much like your neighbor going to the farmer’s co-op or your sister-in-law refusing to get her coffee at Starbucks, went local. “They secretly raised a ton of money and focused on winning local elections.”
The GOP used its money to focus on state legislature, redraw district lines, and blitz the Democrats. “The lines are so gerrymandered now that the votes are not reflective of the voters,” said Ward.
Now Ward and Obama are working hard to give people access to voting and to make sure that voting is fair and just. “There’s a national strategy to fix [district] lines now for 2021,” Ward said, “Okay, that seems far away, but the election cycle of 2018 is directly impacted.”
Some “very important” governor races will be held in 2018 and, with the Democrats shut out of the house and the senate, that leaves for some very tight and vulnerable situations. Getting the right governorships will allow Democrats the leg-up when it comes to the once-a-decade legislative and congressional redistricting process that will happen right after the 2020 Census.
“People like [Pennsylvania Gov.] Tom Wolf [need] to keep his seat and veto the new lines,” Ward said. “We all can work on it right now.”
But what about message? All working campaigns need a message and this is where Ward seems to waver. Make America Great Again is already taken, so what will it be? “There’s a lot of talk about message,” said Ward. “We don’t have one. Yet. Our message will be defined by what happens with this president.”
Without predicting too much Ward said, “Something will create a snowball.” Something like how former President George W. Bush handled Iraq badly or how Bush barely handled Katrina at all. “We don’t know what those things are yet,” she said, “But we will.”
Ominous, but perhaps hopeful. Ward tried to rally the troops through her closing words, “Today is the day we start to fight!”
And hey, Arizona List made it easy, you can start the fight by buying a $100 champagne toast raffle ticket. Proceeds go towards the good people. Cheers to that.
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