This year, EveryDistrict is adding Mississippi to our list of target states. As you may know, Mississippi has legislative elections this year and EveryDistrict has already endorsed six candidates running for the State Senate and the State House of Representatives.
When we tell people outside of Mississippi that we’re working in the state this year, the most common question we get is: Why? They understand why we’re working on building strong majorities in the Senate and House in Virginia. But why are we fighting in the much more challenging territory of the Magnolia State? Here’s why.
1. Because we can beat a supermajority. At EveryDistrict, we believe in building Democratic power wherever doing so can shift priorities toward increasing opportunity for all and helping families. In Mississippi, major budget bills require a three-fifths majority to pass. If Democrats can break the supermajority, we can fund desperately needed increases in teacher pay and stop the most extreme elements of the GOP agenda. And we can. We need two seats in the Senate and four seats in the House. The seats and the votes are there.
2. Because we can elect a Democratic Governor. In 2019, Mississippi will also elect a new governor. The Democratic Attorney General, Jim Hood, is the best candidate in more than a decade to win the seat and is leading by 5 points in the latest polls. But there’s a catch. In Mississippi, successful gubernatorial candidates must win not only a majority of the vote, but a majority of the vote in a majority of the state house districts. Our 2019 strategy focuses on supporting candidates who can help boost Jim Hood’s margins in the districts he needs to win Mississippi’s electoral college.
3. Because there’s a new energy in Mississippi. In 2018, Mike Espy ran a competitive campaign for U.S. Senate and built new grassroots energy. His campaign showed new movement toward Democrats in the same sort of suburban districts that powered Democrats to a Congressional majority and big gains in Michigan and Pennsylvania at the state level in 2018, districts like House District 64 where our candidate Shanda Yates is running. Activists in Mississippi are ready to build on that 2018 energy.
4. Because it’s part of how we win back the South. One of the great Democratic Party projects of the next decade is how to bring some of the emerging states of the South, like Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas, firmly into the Democratic fold. In 2019, Democrats can continue making progress on this front with the winnable races in Mississippi. If you care about a long-term strategy to rebuild power in the South, in 2019 focus your attention on the Magnolia State.
5. Because 50 years later, our work is not done. Mississippi is the most African-American state in the country, with nearly 40 percent of Mississippians identifying as black. Much of the work of the civil rights movement centered on Mississippi, with local leaders like Medgar Evers and Fannie Lou Hamer leading the way. Today, we’re still contending with that legacy. Last month, the National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC) and the Mississippi Center for Justice filed a lawsuit challenging Mississippi’s electoral college system. Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who leads the NDRC said,
“Mississippi’s long, sordid history of racial discrimination and politicians who exploit racial divisions only perpetuate this broken system in which African-American interests are woefully underrepresented in the state government. This lawsuit seeks to level the playing field so that African American voters are finally able to exercise their right to elect the candidates of their choice to lead Mississippi.”
The work to create a more just, fair, and successful future for all Mississippians is far from done. In 2019, we can take serious steps forward in Mississippi.
Now that you’ve heard the why, it’s important to understand how we can make a difference in Mississippi in 2019. Mississippi has some of the lowest cost state legislative races in the country — $50,000 is considered a fully funded campaign — but resources in-state for politics are limited. Grassroots activists across the country can make a big difference. You can learn more about our candidates here and make a donation here.
If you are from Mississippi, know people in Mississippi, or want to tell the story of Mississippi more broadly, then you’re who we’re looking for in a Fundraising Champion. Fundraising Champions engage their friends and families to help win state legislatures and build a stronger democracy. E-mail our Executive Director Nicole Hobbs at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our Fundraising Champion page to learn more.