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Blue Maine 2: Phone Bank

  • Home of Jason Paul 1548 Beacon Street Newton, MA (map)

Email Jason Paul (democratjasonpaul@gmail.com) to RSVP - please bring a phone and laptop - come for some or all of the time!

Please join the Newton Dems ongoing partnership with the Maine and Lewiston, Maine Democratic Committees - make calls to help build the party, improve its ability to win so we can help Maine Democrats unseat New England's only Republican Congressman. See below for a detailed write up on the strategy in Maine:

Newton-Lewiston Sister City Plan

Why Lewiston?

Lewiston is the second largest city in Maine and the largest city in Maine’s 2nd congressional district. Historically a Democratic stronghold, Lewiston has drifted towards the center in recent years. In 2016, Hillary Clinton received 49.1 percent of the vote in Lewiston to Donald Trump’s 43.8 percent and Gary Johnson’s 5.7 percent. Clinton’s slim margin in Lewiston contributed to her loss of the 2nd congressional district and its Electoral College vote. The reduced Democratic margin in Lewiston also helps to explain why Maine’s senators are a Republican and an independent, and why the Republicans won the 2nd district congressional seat in 2014 for the first time since 1994. Lewiston’s congressman, Bruce Poliquin, is the only Republican representing a House district in New England. In order to improve Maine’s federal representation, we must improve the Democratic margin in Lewiston significantly.

The greatest obstacle to improving the Democratic margin in Lewiston is the city’s weak Democratic Party, and the lack of local resources necessary to improve it. Lewiston is a working class city, and the local party has struggled to raise money from a largely poor and middle class electorate. As this plan will make clear, the Lewiston Democratic Committee is prepared to embrace innovative new approaches to improving Democratic performance in the city if it is provided with the resources to do so. Every Newton dollar will help to increase the number of Democratic voters in Lewiston.

Additionally, Lewiston’s geographic location allows Democrats in Newton to make an easy two-and-a-half hour trip by car to help on the ground, and our two states’ close history provides us with a shared cultural connection that will facilitate successful door-knocking and phone-banking. We hope that our friends in Newton can be relied on not just for financial contributions, but for volunteer work as well.

The Plan

The Democratic situation in Lewiston can be improved in three significant ways. First there is the issue of recruiting volunteers, party committee members, and candidates. Our understanding is that some folks in Newton have already made some volunteer recruitment calls into Maine, and we are incredibly grateful for those efforts. By focusing Newton field work on recruiting loyal Democratic voters to become Democratic volunteers, Lewiston can build a bench of future party committee members and candidates for school committee, city council, and the state legislature. Significant liberal energy has been unleashed by the Trump presidency, and we are hoping to tap into that to revitalize our local party. Volunteers in Newton can help with that effort.

The second way we can improve the Democratic situation in Lewiston is by upgrading our local party’s infrastructure. We need to rebuild our website, improve our social media presence, and establish a donor database so we can generate more financial support from the community. All of this requires resources we are sorely lacking. Our hope is that the first dollars raised in Newton can be spent upgrading our infrastructure so all future efforts will be more effective. Much of this work can be done by members of the Lewiston community if we can just come up with the funds to pay for it.

The last and most ambitious way in which we can improve the Democratic situation in Lewiston is through building a revolutionary permanent and local field program. Traditional field programs rely heavily on volunteers and are campaign-driven. As a result, voters feel that the party only reaches out to them when we want something, and are more likely to tune out (especially in places where folks are struggling to get by, like Lewiston). Our approach will be different. We plan to build a permanent program that continues twelve months a year, independent of any candidate or election cycle. Our organizers will be from Lewiston, and we intend to pay them, as a way of generating goodwill in the local community and ensuring a high quality of work. Traditional field operations like GOTV, persuasion door-knocking, and voter ID efforts will continue, but they will be augmented by programs designed to live our values. We are Democrats because we care about our community and we want to make it better, and voters need to know that.  In or out of office, our party as an institution can organize events and efforts to show Lewiston residents the kind of caring, tolerant, civic-minded community we stand for. Lewiston has a large Somali population, and one of our city’s greatest challenges is the continued tensions between white residents and our immigrant community. The Democratic Party has a role to play in bridging the divide. We can host community events like block parties that bring people of all faith traditions and national origins together.

Our efforts can help in more mundane ways too. Folks here in Lewiston are struggling, and the Democratic Party should make an effort to provide people with the services they need when the government isn’t up to the job. From disabled people who are trapped inside by snow during a blizzard to working parents who need a babysitter, the Democratic Party should be a place where people can count on a helping hand. One program we already have in the works is an effort to hold technology education sessions for seniors to help them avoid scammers on the phone and online. It’s this kind of community-oriented programming that Newton’s resources can support and expand.

In order to fully implement this ambitious ideas, we intend to hire organizers dedicated to working in the many communities that make up our city. Two obvious groups that can benefit from a more robust field operation are Lewiston’s immigrant neighborhoods and students attending Bates College. Both immigrants and college students have a natural affinity for the Democratic Party, but both groups also lag behind in voter turnout. By hiring from within those two communities, we hope to dramatically improve Democratic performance in the city. We will also hire organizers to work with young Lewiston residents, and with working class white voters—exactly the kind of people we need to make gains among if we are going to win back the White House in 2020.

We know our plans are bold, and in many ways they go against the prevailing orthodoxy of Democratic strategy. In a world where campaigns seem to come down to which candidate can raise more money for glossy mailers and 30 second attack ads, we believe a different approach could win over a city and a nation weary of plastic politics. Our plans don’t rely on a superhero candidate coming to save us, or a computer whiz cracking the secret to squeeze a few more votes out of expertly targeted demographic groups. In many ways, our plans are old school. We believe that by talking to voters, by listening to their hopes and fears, and doing what we can to meet their needs no matter how small, we can transform the Democratic Party in our city into a social institution people can be proud of. Ultimately, our goal is that when people in Lewiston think of our party, they won’t think of Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, but of their neighbor down the street, their fellow parent at soccer practice, or the nice young man who comes to visit the senior center every Friday. We want to build our party from the ground up in a way that truly puts people first, and we need your help to do it. Let’s revolutionize Democratic politics, and let’s do it together.

The Newton-Lewiston City Sister City Plan was prepared by:

Bruce Noddin, Lewiston Democratic Committee Chair

Kiernan Majerus-Collins, Lewiston Democratic Committee Interim Secretary

Alicia Rea, Lewiston Democratic Committee Member

Hal Larsson, Lewiston Democratic Committee Member