On November 6, 2018, I'm going to unseat the 11th district's Representative Dan Donovan, New York City's sole Republican Congressman. I'm going to do it with a clear and fearless progressive vision, a relentless focus on his egregious voting record, and most importantly, by tapping an enormous, beautiful army of politically activated New Yorkers. It can be done, and here's how.
The 11th District
New York's 11th Congressional District covers all of Staten Island and a piece of southwestern Brooklyn, including portions of Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Gravesend, and Sheepshead Bay. With such variety, it's difficult to sum up in a single sentence--both urban and suburban; poor, working class, middle class, and wealthy; alive with deep-rooted families and newly arrived immigrants.
Before I go to deeply into the victory strategy, I know I need to shake the stereotype of "Staten Island = Republican". Here are some 11th Congressional District facts:
Fact 1: In the 2016 election, Democratic Senator Schumer won the district
Yes, he won the election statewide by a convincing manner, but Senator Schumer tallying of 64% of the vote in the 11th district (even while our Democratic presidential and house candidates were losing) shows that the district is open to pulling the lever for a Democrat. Just as important, drilling down into the results show the outline of a path to victory: Schumer won not only the (traditionally liberal) Brooklyn and North Shore areas, but he competed (
and often won) through the length of Staten Island. This kind of winning coalition is my goal.
Fact 2: Registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans
This surprises everyone that I mention it to, but I double-checked the voter registration files myself.
- In the 11th district as a whole, there were (as of last November) 189,549 registered Democrats to 112,515 registered Republicans.
- Drilling down solely to Staten Island, there are still more registered Democrats: 126,474 to 80,517.
- In the Nov. 2016 election, looking at turnout, there were still 117,297 registered Democrats who turned out compared to 77,969 registered Republicans... yet the district broke Republican at the Presidential and House level and Democrat at the Senate level.
Fact 3: President Obama won the district in 2012
When I talk to voters around the district, I run into many people frustrated by what they see as the "status quo" in Washington. They might have voted for Obama in 2012 but seen things get worse in their life in interim. Maybe they didn't like Hillary; maybe they bought that Trump would be an unconventional "breath of fresh air"; maybe they were discouraged by Bernie Sanders' loss.
What matters is that these voters are not tied to party labels, and they are desperate for someone authentic to speak to their concerns. And not just speak to their concerns, but actually vote to address their concerns.
I have not met a single voter that wants the cable company to sell their private information, but that's how Representative Donovan voted. Nobody I talks to wants mining companies to pollute America's streams, but that's how Donovan voted. Donovan's party is pushing forward with a healthcare repeal which will endanger tens of thousands of his constituents; pushing forward with anti-union "right to work" laws; pushing forward with weakening regulation of Wall Street.
This district is ripe for a positive, energetic, progressive candidate. From there, it's organizing 101 to get the voters to the polls in 17 months.