We’re still over three weeks away from the June 12 primaries that will decide the nominees in most Congressional districts. It’s that anguishing time where you’re ready to get to work on unseating a Republican Congressperson, but you think you shouldn’t “waste” your time throwing your time and money behind someone who might not even make it out of the primary.
But here’s the thing: it’s not a waste at all! Every door you knock and phone call you make and postcard you write today–whether your candidate wins the primary or not–is an investment in creating the kind of excitement and voter engagement that we will absolutely need in November.
Even the money you donate to one candidate isn’t wasted if that candidate doesn’t become the Democratic nominee. Because a heated and exciting primary with multiple good candidates; campaigning hard; advertising on TV, radio, social media; sending out mailers; etc. is an early and constant reminder to all Democrats in that district to pay attention, and to GET OUT AND VOTE.
Last year, I got involved very early, before many candidates had even announced. I worked hard for candidates before the primaries. Some of them went on to win, but some of them also did lose, it’s true. And I won’t lie that the losses didn’t hurt. But I would never go back and change that I supported them, and I strongly believe that their campaigns made the candidates who ultimately won their primaries stronger and increased their chances of winning last November.
So this year, I once again don’t have any competitive races in my own district, and have been feeling the itch to get out and get involved. VA-10 is the next nearest district with a Republican I badly want to see retired. I paid some attention to the candidates as they announced. And when I decided to pick one to support, I did my research. I watched some online interviews, pored over the information on their web sites, and looked at their sources of donations on Open Secrets (because money in politics is a big, big deal to me). We are so lucky to have so many incredible candidates, with such diverse life experiences, resumés, and skills, who are ready and willing to step up like this.
I probably subjected state Senator Jennifer Wexton to a little tougher scrutiny than the others, because I followed the General Assembly proceedings pretty carefully this year for another project, giving me her legislative record to consider. But between her really solid voting record and the bills of her own that she fought for, and the way she treated her colleagues and they her, that extra scrutiny resulted in my being pretty much sold on her. I also really appreciated her campaign finance situation–a very high percent of her donations come from small donors, and the top industries donating to her campaign are “retired” and “law,” which makes sense for someone who’s a lawyer.
So, rather than wait to see who wins this primary, I decided to jump in. I signed up to volunteer and I’ve been out canvassing, and will do more over the next three weekends. And after that, whether Jennifer Wexton wins or not on June 12th, I’ll go right back out and canvass for whichever Democrat is the nominee, knowing that the time and energy I’ve already spent is an investment in that person defeating the Republican in November. What are you doing for the next three weekends?