Sue Lempert

After Trump was elected in November 2016, some Americans were happy but even more were distressed about the new president and that once again Democrats had won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College. Many took to the streets either to silently protest or to show unity. The Women’s March occurred shortly after the inauguration. And that was just the start of people who up to that point had never been actively engaged in politics now getting involved.

Even though the Democrats won control of the House of Representative in 2018, they could have won more seats if not for gerrymandering. Carefully manipulated district maps gave Republicans a substantial advantage in House elections since 2012. In four states — Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina and Texas — Democratic candidates gained support from voters relative to 2016, but gained relatively few seats. The disadvantage is most glaring in Ohio: While Democrats won 48 percent of the popular vote, they collected only 25 percent of the state’s House seats — the same four seats they have held since 2012.

***

In the Bay Area, there was a feeling of frustration. How can we make a change if most if not all of our elected officials are people we support. A small group of Peninsula women who had never been politically active decided to focus on statehouse races in other parts of the country. State legislators draw congressional district lines and Republicans had been successful in dominating many of these state houses despite a population which was primarily made up of Democrats. So was born the Sisters Project.

The results today are truly amazing for such a grassroots effort. Since the Sister Project started in 2017 they have helped elect 31 candidates out of the 44 they were supporting including 16 wins in nine states, helping to create or hold three Democratic trifecta states (Democratic governor and Democrat Legislature) and to break two Republican supermajorities. What started as a Bay Area project has now become nationwide with 76 Sister teams across the country. One of the founders is now in charge of selecting which candidate to support and in which state. The goal is to support those who have a chance to flip the seat from Republican to Democrat in close races.

Each Sister District is assigned two candidates and the volunteer team becomes part of the candidate’s campaign even though that candidate may be 2,000 to 3,000 miles away. They write postcards, phone bank, donate and, in some cases, even travel to the candidate’s state to canvass. Volunteers meet their candidates either in person or by Skype.

***

The local Sisters District Project has been mostly working for candidates in Virginia. Anyone can join Sister District by going to the volunteer page its website and filling in name, email, zip code and phone (the latter is optional): sisterdistrict.com/volunteer. The Peninsula chapter meets at the Highlands Recreation Center, 1851 Lexington Ave., San Mateo, the second Thursday of every month from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. At the next meeting, April 11, members will find out who their candidates will be from the state of Virginia. District co-chair Catherine Grundmann explained “ we will tell our members all about the candidates and how they can support them.”

Nationwide Sister District volunteers contributed 38, 235 hours to support their candidates by canvassing, phone banking, writing postcards and texting. They raised $763,443 for candidates which made up about 7 percent of the candidates fundraising efforts. Eight percent of their candidates won in districts which Hillary Clinton lost by 47 percent. They helped flip races in Michigan and Pennsylvania statehouses to break Republican majorities. Not all members are women and men are welcomed. What they have in common is that this is usually their first hands-on efforts at politics. By working on close races which could affect who gets to drew the new district lines after the 2020 Census, they feel they are making a difference. It’s especially critical now that a gerrymandering case is before the Supreme Court.

Better to get involved and make a difference than stay at home and complain.

Sue Lempert is the former mayor of San Mateo. Her column runs every Monday. She can be reached at sue@smdailyjournal.com.

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(13) comments

Jorg

Terence ? The “Russian collusion hoax” is far from dead! Mueller may not have been able to prove it, yet, or been prevented from doing so, but don’t think this is the end of it, - especially not when we haven’t even seen his report. However, is the washed out “you can keep your plan” the worst you can cook up against President Obama, - especially when we now are stuck with a habitual liar in the WH? That’s what it looked like back then, and probably what the ACA designers breafed Obama about, but certainly not something Obama would “lie” about! Obama was a very honest president, - but what can you say about the present occupant of the WH?

Terence Y

Jorg. The Russian collusion hoax is dead in regards to investigating our great President Trump, but there will be an investigation into the people that perpetrated the hoax. I get the feeling involved players will begin squealing to avoid prosecution. I wonder if President Trump can leverage the report for a lesson on the art of the deal. Maybe... the redacted report for $10 billion of border wall funds. What do you think?

Let's assume Obama originally thought he was telling the truth (although I doubt it), but once he knew you couldn't keep your plan, he lied about it, winning Lie of the Year. Even your beloved NBC news has an article detailing his shenanigans. As for President Trump, I can say he is Making America Great Again.

Jorg

You don't seem to have much regard for the US presidency! A lying braggart like Trump is good enough for you, - a laughingstock around the world with zero respect?

Terence Y

Jorg - is the washed out "lying braggart" and "laughingstock around the world with zero respect" the best response you have? Everyone knows Liar-in-Chief Obama's legacy will continue to drop like Wile E. Coyote falling off a cliff. Since you obviously didn't put much effort into your comment, I'm gonna have to label your entry as just another piece of JUNC (Jorg's Unsubstantiated Nonsense Comment).

Jorg

Yes, Sue, - imagine how much better we, and the rest of the world, would have been without the Electoral College: no 'W', who was selected by the Supreme Court with just a single EC vote, no unnecessary, unwinnable Mid-East wars, and no Trump and all he has destroyed in just 2 years, - including world respect rebuilt by President Obama after the former Republican incompetent occupant of the WH had destroyed it. Books are already written about the disastrous Trump administration, - if even "administration" is the right word to use for such sorry mismanagement.

vincent wei

Frustration?....

Can you imagine the frustration of your fellow citizens who are a minority in California?

The backdrop of the American Revolution was about taxation without representation….the tyranny of the majority and mob rule.

The political monolith that California has become is exactly why the Electoral College was adopted.

States gave up rights to a central government in exchange for protections like the Electoral College

The Electoral College protects minorities.

We are a Union of States not just of major population centers.

What’s next Sue, abolish the Senate?

Jorg

And the cost of the Electoral collage, who got us 2 incompetent Republican occupants of the WH! While it took someone like President Obama to clean up after 'W', can we find someone competent enough to clean up the even worse mess that Trump is leaving?

Jorg

Yes, - Vincent, - and the Electoral College means that Republican votes in blue states like California don't mean anything! Is that really what you want?

Christopher Conway

As the leading member of the Nationwide Brother District, I am looking to get all good men out there who are frustrated with liberal Democrats. This is our time to stand up as men and get Donald Trump elected once again. Each man is selected to go into completive districts throughout America and let voters know that Democrats are allowing our southern border to stay unprotected, proposing socialist agendas and redistributing wealth on a massive scale. Its time men stand together and get these limpwristed liberals out a Washington DC once and for all. Better to get involved now than watch our country turn into Venezuela. Time for all good men to come to the aid of their country.

Jorg

The vast majority is too intelligent and informed to fall for the "our country turn into Venezuela" nonsense, - a lie so ridiculous that only gullible and easily fooled Trump followers are dumb enough to believe it.

Terence Y

Jorg, is this the majority, including you, that fell hook, line, and sinker for the Russian collusion hoax? Seems to me, Trump’s followers have a much better understanding of America than your so-called intelligent and informed majority. If you want a ridiculous lie, don’t forget Liar-in-Chief Obama’s, “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan. Period.” That beauty will never be topped in your lifetime.

JME

Enlist in the military, they need good men now..

JME

Enlist in the military, they need you now.

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