Deval Patrick launches initiative to spur grassroots organizing growth

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Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) on Monday launched Bridge Together, a new initiative from Democratic super PAC American Bridge 21st Century that aims to empower grassroots activists in next year’s midterm elections and beyond.

The move comes as fierce partisan battle lines are drawn with midterm elections just over a year away.

Much is at stake for both parties — Republicans are looking to regain control of at least one chamber of Congress, while Democrats are pressed to hold their slim majorities in the House and Senate.

Patrick told The Hill that the continued success of grassroots activists is “critical” to the success of Democrats in 2022.

“Bridge Together is about permanent ongoing capacity building, so trying to get [groups] resources right now, so they can start to staff up right now, so they can start to organize right now [and] so they can do fundraising and information sharing right now,” Patrick said.

Grassroots political activism isn’t novel, but gained prominence in the past election cycle in battleground states such as Georgia where well-known figures like Stacey Abrams executed successful voter registration efforts.

The 2020 presidential election set multiple records for voter turnout, notably among Americans of color, and the work of grassroots groups have largely been lauded as one of the main reasons why election participation increased.

The influx of attention also led to better funding from national groups, which allowed grassroots organizations to scale their operations to increase their reach and impact.

To start, Bridge Together will be active in Georgia, Pennsylvania and Arizona, and then eventually expand to Wisconsin and North Carolina.

Patrick noted the political importance of the first three states for Democrats, citing several big congressional and gubernatorial races.

However, the former governor and onetime presidential candidate made it clear that he wants Bridge Together to have staying power.

“We’ve got to be about the long term, not just the next election cycle, as important as that is,” Patrick said. “Obviously electoral victory is important, but we’re also going to be looking at levels of engagement levels of registration. In each of these states and others there are voter suppression statutes that are new, new barriers that have been put up.”

Voting rights proponents, especially on the grassroots level, have sounded the alarm this year over the wave of bills introduced in Republican-controlled state legislatures that include new voting restrictions.

Over 30 of these bills across nearly 20 states have become law since the beginning of the year, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. Additionally, voter turnout usually decreases in midterm elections.

Each group that Bridge Together partners with will receive a grant for up to $250,000 depending on its size and need. The hope, Patrick said, is to raise $4 million this year and then $7.5 million next year.

In particular, Patrick said an overarching goal is of Bridge Together that is consistent with American Bridge’s objective is to reach “persuadable and low propensity women voters.” 

While the demographic is often construed as suburban white women, it actually encompasses “a broad group of diverse women who are living outside of cities in the suburbs and extra urban areas and rural areas, who had a huge impact … in 2020,” Patrick explained.

In a recent survey, American Bridge and ALG Research polled registered female voters in Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The groups found the majority of women surveyed viewed President Biden favorably, though nearly half said they pay less attention to what happens in Washington now that former President Trump is no longer in office.

Tags 2022 midterm elections Deval Patrick Donald Trump Joe Biden women voters

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