Democratic legislative group elevates top staff in effort to boost focus on state races

Democratic legislative group elevates top staff in effort to boost focus on state races
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The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) will promote its two top officials as it works to raise awareness about state-based campaigns among major donors.
The group, which funds state legislative campaigns across the country, will promote executive director Jessica Post to the newly created position of president. Heather Williams, the deputy executive director, will take over as executive director.
Post told The Hill that the DLCC is modeling itself on big Democratic groups like EMILY’s List and the House Majority PAC, both of which have presidents who spend most of their time raising money and representing the organization and executives who manage day-to-day operations.
“As the organization has grown, we’ve realized there’s really a need for someone to be the face to both our partners and donors and legislators of the organization, and also to interface with the press and grow the DLCC’s brand identity, and the president role is how we’ve determined that,” Post said in an interview.
The DLCC has also tapped Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the Democratic majority leader of the New York state Senate, as its next chairwoman.
Both the DLCC and its GOP counterpart, the Republican State Leadership Committee, have grown in prominence in political circles, even as they lag behind groups dedicated to electing members of Congress and governors. The DLCC aims to raise $50 million for the 2020 election cycle, a five-fold increase over the amount it raised and spent in 2010.
Post said more donors are recognizing the importance of state legislatures, not only in implementing new policies but also in drawing district lines in the decennial redistricting process.
“If you want real change to states, it starts in state legislatures,” Post said. “We’ve really worked to grow the awareness of donors and supporters across the country to connect the dots.”
Democrats currently hold 3,446 of the 7,383 state legislative seats across the country, about 47 percent. They control 37 of the 98 partisan legislative chambers — the unicameral Nebraska Senate is ostensibly nonpartisan, though in practice Republican-aligned legislators control the body.
For decades, the type of partisanship that infects Washington had been muted in state legislatures, where divided control between parties was common. But as new attention focuses on those down-ballot races, familiar blue-red divides have emerged. Today, only one state, Minnesota, has a divided state legislature, where Democrats control the state House and Republicans hold the state Senate.
Voters in four states — Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia — will elect new state legislators this year. Forty-four states will hold legislative elections in 2020.
“The future of democracy is on the line in 2020. Everything's up for grabs, and we realized we really have to go for broke and make sure folks across the country are aware of the importance of state legislatures,” Post said.