I like Obama's chances to win. I even like the trending chances of Dems holding on to the Senate and winning the House. These are all lofty goals that I don't want to diminish, but we all should have learned in 2010, it's in the statehouses where the rubber meets the legislative road.
Here in my area of New York (The Hudson Valley), I ran for the New York State Senate in 2006 and what I found during that campaign was pretty disturbing. It seems that no one knows or really cares about state races, unless it's for Governor or, maybe, AG. This was a typical conversation I would have with voters in my district:
Me: Hello, I'm Brian Keeler and I'm running for the New York State Senate.Very frustrating. I was so frustrated at people's lack of understanding about our state government that I traveled around a bit and gave the talk that you can see below. It's a 2 parter, but if you start, you'll get the drift:
Voter: Oh! So you're running against Hillary?
Me: (sigh) No, I, like Hillary, am a Democrat, but I'm running for the State Senate...(then a quick civics lesson)
Well, the GOP figured out what I already knew and was part of the civics lesson I gave time and time again. If you look at the different forms of government, the one that effects your day-to-day life the most is your state government. From property taxes to road maintenance to schools to environmental regulations to health care...state government has more direct impact on your life than the federal government...by far. Therefore, you should pay as much, if not more attention to your state races as you do to the big, all encompassing presidential sweepstakes.
Yes, the GOP understood this in 2010 and decided to spend time and money to win as many state houses as possible...and they succeeded...in a redistricting year, no less. Were we asleep, or what?
And look what happened. We have had an onslaught of really damaging legislation that ranges from limiting women's access to health care to revoking union rights to even limiting who can and can't vote in our elections.
In 2006, I was also frustrated that the incredible attention and work people put into our congressional races...in my district it was to elect John Hall and Kirsten Gillibrand...ended with those races. They had armies of people out canvassing and calling and, no matter what we did to plug into that energy, people just didn't see it as very important. They didn't care.
Hopefully we all understand the lesson of 2010.
So this is a call to everyone NOT to neglect your statehouse races this fall. Work to re-elect the president, yes, but also give some time and money to your local races as well. What you will be supporting will have more of a direct impact on your life than your congressperson.
P.S. Here in my district, we have a great candidate running for the state senate - Terry Gipson. He is a progressive and will really make a great senator. I'm working with him to get him elected. (If you want to toss in a buck or two, that would be helpful.) I'm sure you can find some great state candidates in your neck of the woods if you look. Do it and work to turn the GOP out of your statehouse. You have seen what happens when they get control.