Cementing its status as the biggest and most important battleground state, Texas is getting some national support from a group focused on growing power in the legislature. The Sister District recently announced they would be joining forces with the Texas Organizing Project (TOP) as part of their State Bridges Program, the first part of their ambitious 2021-2022 election strategy.
Sister District is a national organization that was started after the 2016 election to build grassroots power in state legislatures. Since their launch, Sister District has recruited over 50,000 volunteers from blue districts to help flip legislative districts around the country.
In 2020, Sister District helped raise over $194,000 for legislative races in Texas and endorsed several Democratic candidates. Even though that election cycle was disappointing on the state level, Sister District is further committed to continuing the grassroots power-building.
In an interview with Texas Signal, Sister District’s Executive Director Lala Wu spoke about the State Bridges Program, and what the collaboration with TOP will look like. Supporting TOP was a natural fit for Sister District since so many of their progressive priorities align, including increasing affordable housing, combatting climate change, and finally enacting Medicaid expansion in Texas.
Just a month ago, millions of Texans were devastated by power outages that left many communities without electricity and water. The instinct of many Republicans in the Texas legislature is to continue to pass bills on issues, like voter suppression and abortion restriction, that wouldn’t address the infrastructure crisis.
Wu praised TOP’s efforts in the aftermath of the winter storm last month, and noted that they exhibited the type of community engagement that can further change electoral policies. “What we need to see is exactly the type of work that TOP is doing, and that TOP has been doing, which is organizing in their communities day in and day out, year after year, and building these long-term connections with folks,” said Wu.
Wu brought up that too often progressive campaigns arrive at a community just before a vote, and then disappear afterward. She stressed that the State Bridges program is an opportunity to present full-cycle organizing, which will “help to draw the connection between what happens at the ballot box and the policies that impact people’s lives.”
For Wu, Virginia is the perfect example where grassroots organizing and a long-term strategy truly transformed their legislature, and in turn the state. In 2017, the state expanded Medicaid. And just recently they became the first Southern state to pass a law abolishing the death penalty.
“In order to win you have to number one: invest and number two: invest in a long-term mission and building long-term power, and this takes time,” said Wu. She also said that Sister District understands that the foundation for flipping seats isn’t going to come overnight. Still, Wu is excited for the volunteers at Sister District who understand that organizing in Texas is a long process that takes dedication and commitment.
On April 29, Sister District will introduce several members of TOP to their volunteer base at a virtual event.
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