HRC doubles down on voter contact ahead of midterms

HRC doubles down on voter contact ahead of midterms

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The Human Rights Campaign is targeting 2.1-million “equality voters” in Pennsylvania with a grassroots voter-contact campaign to flip elections in the state and across the country.

HRC is predicting major turnout among voters in favor of LGBTQ-inclusive policies including marriage equality, equitable family law and antidiscrimination laws protecting sexual orientation and gender identity.

With fewer than 100 days left until the mid-term elections, the national LGBTQ civil-rights advocacy group is leaning on its grassroots campaign, HRC Rising, said its national campaign director, Geoff Wetrosky. The campaign is engaging the 3-million members of HRC nationwide to volunteer to “fight back against the Trump-Pence agenda with electing a pro-equality majority into the House.”

The $26-million nationwide campaign, which launched last year, targets an estimated 50-million equality voters. HRC is aiming to turn out an additional 10-million LGBTQ voters. Wetroksy said the initiative so far has helped register more than 25,000 people to vote, while phone banking and canvassing for nearly 330 HRC-endorsed candidates at every level of government.

Allison VanKuiken, HRC’s state director for Pennsylvania, said the focus is on strategic places where voter engagement could determine the outcome of an election.

“We’re focusing on areas such as Allegheny County, Lehigh Valley, Northeastern and Southeastern Pennsylvania to get bodies to the polls,” she said. “The HRC Rising campaign is looking to identify supporters and train them to do the on-the-ground, voter-contact work that’s needed to win elections. We’re intentional about showing up and working with other groups to see how fast we can plug into the community.”

VanKuiken said HRC is finalizing the hires of eight field organizers in Pennsylvania to intensify canvassing efforts. So far, more than 6,000 volunteer hours have been tracked, including phone banking and community events. The ground game of establishing voter contact will be crucial once the field organizers are onboard, she added

HRC is looking to follow the campaign strategy of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who knocked on close to 120,000 doors ahead of her Democratic primary victory over Rep. Joe Crowley in New York’s 14th congressional district.

Last month, HRC partnered with Equality PA, an LGBTQ advocacy group, to host the “Taking Action” discussion series with Sarah McBride, HRC’s national press secretary. McBride traveled to six locations throughout the state to discuss LGBT rights and “bending the arc of justice.”

HRC is also hiring an additional 45 organizers nationally and deploying 50 headquarters-based staffers into key districts and states. In addition to Pennsylvania, the campaign will target five other states with competitive Senate races: Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio and Wisconsin.

HRC Rising will remain active after November’s elections, Wetrosky said.

“We’ll continue to have staff after the election to make way for the 2020 election,” he said. 

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