A progressive group plans to spend millions of dollars training hundreds of potential Democrats in Texas, Arizona and seven other states in the coming months, as part of an effort to diversify the Democratic Party’s staff pipeline.
“People with the energy and enthusiasm to get involved in politics, they still find roadblocks to get into politics as a career because it’s still such an old boys club where you have to know someone who knows someone to get a job on a campaign, “said Lauren Baer, managing partner at Arena.” We want to expand the opening of who can participate in progressive politics so that it reflects our country as a whole and our party as a whole more. “
The group aims to build local infrastructure by training staff living in key states, making it easier for graduates to quickly find professional help. In addition to Texas and Arizona, the group also works in Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina and Pennsylvania during this cycle. It also seeks to help Democratic campaigns hire more diverse campaign staff, an important goal for candidates hoping to live up to the party’s increased focus on racial justice.
Arena was launched after the 2016 election and has trained more than 6,200 Democratic staff and volunteers since then. More than half of them have been women and more than half have been racial minorities, while about a third have been LGBTQ people.
“We are very conscious of who we are training, precisely because the Democrats have not been aware of this for so many years,” Baer said.
The group will also directly fund about 40 organizers in Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Texas, who will work on state law and county-level races, a continuation of a program it first launched for last year’s election in Virginia.
In Virginia, despite democratic losses at the top of the ticket, the party won four of the seven state legislative races in which Arena placed employees, including a narrow 400-vote victory in one.
It also hosts mass training for more than 125 people in Arizona later this month and 600 people in Texas in June.
Baer, a former U.S. House candidate in Florida, said Democrats need to focus more on building long-term infrastructure than on pouring money into individual candidates’ campaign boxes.
“For far too long, Democrats have had what I think I would call a shiny object problem, which is to say we like to fall in love with and invest in – sometimes overinvest in – candidates,” Baer said. “And we do it at the expense of building the kind of long-term, permanent power supply and infrastructure on earth that is needed to win year after year.”