We must not let that happen again. Last year, our new super PAC targeted the legislative contests in New Jersey, where the Republican governor’s anticipated landslide re-election threatened the Democrats’ control of the state Senate and Assembly. Working with labor and other advocacy groups, we raised $8.4 million in an unprecedented campaign to stop the Republican tide. Conceived along models used at the national level, we unleashed a blitz of TV, radio and direct mail advertising, as well as online sites and door-to-door voter outreach.
The campaign was a success. Despite the Republican landslide at the top of the ballot, Republicans were unable to gain even one seat in the 120 legislative races. The super PAC also championed a referendum to raise the state’s minimum wage.
This is a critical year, with most states holding legislative elections. Democrats are positioned to gain seats in Pennsylvania and Iowa, while in Oregon the party faces a pitched battle to maintain control. Similar challenges await in countless other states. Democrats must not surrender both the issues agenda and redistricting to the Republicans, enabling them to reshape the congressional map to their electoral advantage.
The New Jersey effort is a shining example of what Democrats must do across the country in 2014 and beyond. It’s time to take that effort national. With the same commitment of time, resources and enthusiasm, Democrats can reclaim the Democratic Party’s control of the political and policy agendas in statehouses across the nation, and level the playing field that has heavily tilted Republican.
Jonathan Levy is the executive director of General Majority PAC, the principle national Democratic super PAC focused on electing state legislators.
Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., walks on Broadway after a Future Forum with young entrepreneurs in the Flatiron District of New York City, April 16, 2015. Reps. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., Seth Moulton, D-Mass., and Grace Meng, D-N.Y., also attended.