by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Associate Editor
Fighting for the Majority, a group of progressives who raise money to elect Democrats to public office with the goal of achieving a majority of seats in both chambers, held their 16th annual major fundraising event at South Lake Union Discovery Center on October 30. In terms of dollars raised and attendance, the event was a major success.
The money raised this fall will help fund the campaign to unseat Rodney Tom and his Republican colleagues and ensure that advances in LGBT civil rights and on other progressive issues can resume in our state, said officials.
Fighting for the Majority is co-chaired by Josh Castle and Audrey Haberman.
FOUNDING AND PURPOSE
In 1998, after a Republican controlled legislature overrode then-Gov. Gary Locke's veto to create the state's so-called Defense of Marriage Act, a dedicated group of Gay and Lesbian citizens recognized that if the LGBT community were to advance civil rights at the state level they would need to get involved in the electoral process in a clear and powerful way. They decided to create a fundraising mechanism to help elect legislators who would stand for equality.
According to officials, by and large, Democrats were the only candidates and legislators willing to back LGBT causes, so the event benefitted Democrats. These citizens dubbed the successful fundraiser Fighting for the Majority. It became an annual event, and today Fighting for the Majority raises more 'hard' money to support the legislature's Democratic caucuses than any other fundraiser.
Funds raised by Fighting for the Majority go to directly support the election of Democratic legislators in swing districts via the House Democratic Campaign Committee and the Washington Senate Democratic Campaign (HDCC and WSDC).
'Armed with electoral expertise, research, and polling, the WSDC and HDCC dynamically target our funds to the swing districts where they are most needed,' say officials on the group's official website (http://fightingforthemajority.com). 'This means, of course, Democratic legislative candidates who don't necessarily have a large or obvious LGBT constituency in their districts nevertheless will receive LGBT support. This raises the awareness that the LGBT community is an important constituency for all Democrats in the Legislature.'
Fighting for the Majority is one of simplest fundraisers ever. Volunteers serve on the organizing committee, and they help get the word out. Individuals can sponsor the event starting at the $150 level, and couples may sponsor starting at $300. Sponsors who made their donation by October 4 were recognized on the printed invitation to the sponsorship recognition event. The expense of the event is minimal, so nearly all the funds raised go directly to support the retention of a Democratic majority in the Legislature.
LGBT issues have been a priority of the Democratic caucus for years. 'While we are grateful for the Republicans who've supported bills we care about, unfortunately, none of the legislative progress made for the LGBT community in Washington would have been made over the last few years if Republicans had a majority in either legislative house,' said Fighting for the Majority officials. 'While there clearly are individual Republicans who support equality for LGBT people, the party as a whole, and the leadership of the party in particular, have been staunch opponents of LGBT equality.'
Here is how next year's election is shaping up:
KEY HOUSE RACES
Democrats currently hold a 55-to-43 majority in the House. Incumbent Democrats expecting to face serious challenges include Hans Dunshee, Tami Green, Larry Seaquist, Roger Goodman, Kathy Haigh, Roger Freeman, Monica Stonier, and Dawn Morrell. Democrats will have to defend several midterm appointments, including in the 41st District (Mercer Island) and may also have the opportunity to pick up seats in the 30th (Federal Way), 35th (Mason County), and 44th (south Snohomish County).
KEY SENATE RACES
Although Democrats are technically in the majority, a Republican-dominated cartel known as the 'Majority Coalition Caucus' controls this chamber by a one-vote margin (25-24), due to two conservative Democrats who caucus with the GOP (Tim Sheldon and Rodney Tom). Democrats have several real opportunities to pick up seats in the Senate and retake the majority. Vulnerable Republican/conservative incumbents the aforementioned Tom and Sheldon, as well as Andy Hill, Joe Fain, Steve O'Ban, Doug Ericksen, Michael Baumgartner, and Pam Roach. Democrats will also need to defend Tracey Eide, Steve Hobbs, and Nathan Schlicher.
WILL LGBT PROGRESS RESUME?
In 2012, with majorities in both chambers, Democrats led the fight to make our legislature the first in the country to repeal a state 'defense of marriage' act. In 2013, with Republicans in charge of the Senate, there was no opportunity for progress on issues such as protecting Gay youth from fraudulent and dangerous 'conversion therapy.' Allowing the standoff to continue past 2014 will also make it harder for Gov. Jay Inslee to accumulate the record he will need for re-election in 2016, said officials. For that reason and many others, it's not too early to begin focusing on what you can do to help bring both houses under progressive control next year.
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