Pro-worker candidates across the country faced enormous headwinds in this election. Thanks to “corporate personhood,” a new class of billionaire mega-donors (along with corporations themselves) was able to inject hundreds of millions of untraceable dollars into state and local elections.
Working America’s brilliant field program, augmented by online, phone, mail, and other efforts, fought back against big money and won.
Here are some highlights:
Colorado: Joe Coors, heir to the Coors fortune, waged a thorough campaign to unseat pro-worker Representative Ed Perlmutter in Colorado’s 7th District. Not only did we beat back Coors’ money, we took two Adams County Commissioner seats in the process.
Massachusetts: Scott Brown was one of the most popular U.S. Senators in the country. He was also Wall Street’s favorite Senator: Brown took more campaign cash from the financial sector than any candidate or member of Congress in the country. From offices in Boston and Worcester, we went door-to-door in 16 of the working class communities that gave Brown his winning margin in 2010. We talked about Brown’s Wall Street ties, his votes against jobs bills, and his willingness to cut Social Security and Medicare in order to preserve tax cuts for the very wealthy. Eight of those cities and towns flipped to Elizabeth Warren, who is already on track to become one of the most economically progressive Senators in the country.
Michigan: Say goodbye, emergency managers! Our team out of Ann Arbor helped reverse one of the nation’s most heinously undemocratic policies. By urging voters to complete their ballot and vote on the non-partisan section, we sent the young Bridget Mary McCormack to the State Supreme Court, and ousted cyber school supporter Mark Ouimet from his Washtenaw County-based
Minnesota: You probably saw on the news that despite Romney’s “expand the map” claims, we kept Minnesota blue for Obama. But on the local level, pro-worker DFL candidates took back the State House and State Senate from the extremists who pushed right-to-work, voter suppression, oh and yeah, they shut down the state government. We said “Enough of that”: our team in the Twin Cities worked on 29 legislative races and won 26 of them. Added bonus? The Minnesota legislature will count three new union members among its ranks: State Representatives-
Missouri: Todd Akin didn’t only have extreme views on women’s rights. He also suggested abolishing the minimum wage, called Medicare “unconstitutional,” and voted twice for Paul Ryan’s Medicare-destroying budget. Our St. Louis team helped Senator Claire McCaskill, long-considered a goner by the DC punditry, overtake Akin and win reelection.
New Mexico: We’re particularly proud of our work in the Land of Enchantment. Our Albuquerque team turned the state blue for Obama and sent the young, firmly pro-worker Rep. Martin Heinrich to the U.S. Senate. We also made a crucial difference in four legislative seats: Michael Sanchez won in SD-29 by 1,749 votes, Emily Kane won in HD-15 by 289 votes, and Emily Thomson in HD-24 won by only 237 votes, John Sapien won in SD-9 by 139 votes. Whew!
But best of all? Despite opposition at every stage from the Chamber of Commerce, the Albuquerque City Council, and a whole chorus of cynics, Albuquerque residents voted to raise the minimum wage in Albuquerque to $8.50, giving a raise to 40,000 low-wage workers in Albuquerque.
North Carolina: Working America is still pretty new to the Tarheel State, but since January our Greensboro team has already built a network of over 20,000 members. We brought people into the political process who had never voted before; by talking about crucial issues like jobs and outsourcing, we held Mitt Romney to one of his smallest margins in the country, a mere 2.17 percent.
Ohio: Yowza! In the days leading up to the election, Ohioans couldn’t turn a corner without running into an attack ad paid for by Karl Rove, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, or any of the other anti-worker groups that flooded the airwaves. Still, our teams in Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati overcame the big bucks with thousands of person-to-person conversations across the state. On Tuesday, not only did we turn Ohio blue and give President Obama a second term, we reelected Senator Sherrod Brown despite the $40 million of outside money spent specifically to defeat him. Down the ballot, we ousted four legislative supporters of the union-stripping Senate Bill 5, replacing them with advocates for working families.
Oregon: The Beaver State entered the 2012 Election with an evenly-divided lower chamber in Salem, casting doubt on any pro-worker efforts in the legislature. But not anymore. Team Portland knocked on thousands of doors across Oregon and here’s what we happened: we reelected Secretary of State Kate Brown, we got a strong progressive Labor Commissioner in Brad Avakian, we beat back a measure repealing the estate tax and passed a measure eliminating corporate tax breaks, held the Oregon Senate and broke the tie in the Oregon House, sending 7 of our endorsed candidates to Salem. Want proof we made the difference? We made hundreds of knocks for Brent Barton in HD-40, a politically mixed district in Clackamas County – he won by 304 votes.
Pennsylvania: Trouble for voters started last year, when Republican legislators rammed through one of the most restrictive voter suppression bills in the country. The soap opera of legal challenges continues, but luckily the law was not in place for November 6, 2012. Unfortunately, there was enormous confusion across the state, and Working America organizers in Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania worked tirelessly to educate voters through every twist and turn.
Thankfully, that work bore fruit on Tuesday. Barack Obama took the state, and Senator Bob Casey will return to Washington for a second term. Furthermore, we beat back well-funded legislative challenger and voucher-supporter D. Raja, reelecting pro-public education State Senator Matt Smith.
Virginia: Another sore spot for Karl Rove and his super PAC buddies, who broke the bank in their attempt to defeat Barack Obama here. Virginia was also the site of a marquee U.S. Senate race between former Governors Tim Kaine and George Allen, who were in a near statistical tie for nearly two years. Then our team landed in Fairfax and had thousands of conversations with voters who had previously only been contacted through robo-calls and negative ads. As you know by this point, Obama is now 2 for 2 in the Commonwealth, and Tim Kaine will be taking his pro-worker policies and incredible eyebrows to the U.S. Senate.
Wisconsin: Last but not least, our team of Badgers in Milwaukee capped off an extraordinary two years with historic victories. After a narrow loss in the June recall, our team helped Obama beat Paul Ryan in his home state and send Rep. Tammy Baldwin to the U.S. Senate. Not only is Baldwin our country’s first openly gay U.S. Senator, she will also be one of Senate’s staunchest progressives on the issues of tax fairness, workers’ rights, and the social safety net.