For Immediate Release
July 2, 2019
EMILYs List Announces Unprecedented $20 Million Investment Focused on Flipping State Legislative Chambers in 2020
The Focus 2020 initiative will focus on more than 20 states where reproductive freedom is under attack and state legislatures control redistricting
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today EMILYs List, the nation’s largest resource for women in politics, announced a $20 million investment in state and local elections for the Focus 2020 initiative. This historic investment will focus on building a pipeline of future women leaders and flipping state legislative chambers in 2020 with an eye toward redistricting in 2021, by electing pro-choice Democratic women who will pass policies that support women and families and fight back against Republican efforts to roll back women's access to health care. The launch of this initiative comes following the Supreme Court’s dangerous decision to undermine the democratic process by allowing partisan gerrymandering to continue.
“Over the past 10 years, Democrats have continued to lose power at the state legislative level due to Republicans’ heavily gerrymandered state maps, and women and families are suffering the consequences,” said Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILYs List. “While Republicans have used their power to double down on their anti-woman agenda and pass a wave of disturbing legislation attacking women’s rights, 2020 is shaping up to be a historic year and Democratic women are poised to make huge gains. These state legislative battles are crucial in the fight to protect reproductive freedom and ensure that districts are truly representative of voters in each state. With the launch of our biggest-ever investment in state legislative work through the Focus 2020 initiative, we look forward to expanding on our efforts to build a pipeline of women ready to serve their communities, and to electing women who can end these attacks and draw fair state and federal maps in 2021. Fair districts are critical to reviving our democracy and decreasing the polarization in our nation. The time is now.”
Focus 2020 will expand EMILYs List’s state and local campaigns team and our Run to Win program. Since its launch in 2017, 46,000 women have reached out to us about running for office. This initiative will allow EMILYs List to flip more chambers this cycle and ensure that more pro-choice Democratic women candidates have the skills and support they need to run for office and win their elections. This expanded investment will include hiring additional staffers dedicated to state work on the campaigns, research, and communications teams; increased advanced level candidate training in person and online; more direct candidate contributions; and the expansion of EMILYs List digital outreach through the Run to Win program and increased recruitment efforts in priority districts.
State legislatures are on the front line of issues that directly affect working families every day such as access to health and reproductive care, quality education, good-paying jobs and more. In recent years, Republican-controlled state legislatures have advanced harmful, anti-choice policies through their gerrymandered majorities in statehouses across the country. In 2019 alone, more than 350 bills attacking women’s reproductive health were introduced and nine states passed laws limiting women’s access to safe and legal abortion care.
Focus 2020 will target more than 500 state legislative races with a particular focus on flipping chambers where state legislatures have a direct impact on redistricting. Some of these states include Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Beyond its focus on restricting, this effort will also target states where there is great opportunity due to changing demographics, where a woman’s right to choose is under attack, and where there are rising women leaders pushing for change across the board.
In the 2018 cycle, the organization targeted more than 1,600 races in more than 20 states, increasing the number of women in statewide offices, state legislative seats, and municipal seats. We flipped seven chambers and laid the groundwork for future victories by gaining seats in more than 10 chambers that could potentially flip in 2020. Through this initiative, in the 2020 cycle EMILY’s list is working to hold state legislative chambers in 10 states and make gains in one chamber in at least eight states.
Last week EMILYs List also announced a new partnership with Priorities USA focused on Virginia where state legislative seats are up for election this November. The partnership will include a $600,000 digital campaign focused on voter persuasion and mobilization in key districts throughout the state to ensure Democrats take back both chambers ahead of the 2020 Census and redistricting.
EMILYs List, the nation’s largest resource for women in politics, has raised over $600 million to elect pro-choice Democratic women candidates. With a grassroots community of over five million members, EMILY's List helps Democratic women win competitive campaigns – across the country and up and down the ballot – by recruiting and training candidates, supporting strong campaigns, researching the issues that impact women and families, and turning out women voters to the polls. Since our founding in 1985, we have helped elect 150 women to the House, 26 to the Senate, 16 governors, and nearly 1,100 women to state and local office. Nearly 40 percent of the candidates EMILYs List has helped elect to Congress have been women of color. During the historic 2017-2018 cycle, EMILYs List raised a record-breaking $110 million and launched a record independent expenditure campaign. We helped elect 34 new women to the House, including 24 red-to-blue victories; enough seats to have delivered the U.S. House majority alone. Since the 2016 election, more than 46,000 women have reached out to EMILY's List about running for office laying the groundwork for the next decade of candidates for local, state and national offices.