Meet Grant Herring; Let's Buy Him Lunch!
by Pitin, Wed Jun 06, 2007 at 11:20:22 AM EDT
As you may know we have two primary goals here at Next Generation Democrats (NGD); supporting young progressive candidates and more importantly, assisting young staffers trying to get a start in progressive politics.
Progressive campaigns unfortunately have become some of the most anti-progressive employers in this country. Junior staffers working on their first or second campaigns rarely make more than $1,000-$1,250 a month and very rarely even have access to the most basic health care plans. This is unacceptable. Recent graduates that are paying down student and/or car loans or current students that have to pay increasingly rising tuition costs simply cannot financially afford to work for our team.
At NGD we have decided to take action and are directly assisting our young staffers that are essential for the future of our Progressive movement and Democratic Party. When we endorse a candidate that is over the age of 45 all monies that are donated to their campaign are earmarked as supplemental funds for junior staffer salaries. We require the campaign to continue to pay the "sponsored staffer" the prevailing market wage in addition to the amount of the NGD monthly donation.
Going to school in Virginia but living in New Jersey put Grant in a difficult position. He was already volunteering on the Oleszek campaign and was ready to step up into a full time position (this means 80+ hours in campaign world) as long as he had enough money to pay the rent and feed himself during the summer months (as opposed to living at home in NJ rent free). The problem was that while the Oleszek campaign wanted to bring him on board the budget did not account for this extra expenditure of an additional staffer despite breaking fundraising records (being the #2 targeted Senate race in the state, each dollar raised is pretty much pre-allocated).
Working with Janet's Campaign Manager, we were able to find enough money in the budget that when combined with our earmarked donation allowed Grant to stay in town and work full-time for the campaign.
A monthly donation from NGD (and your generous contributions) has provided a tremendous "return on investment". The Oleszek for Senate campaign is obviously benefiting by having an additional full time staffer (and in a campaign based on grassroots and field organizing, an extra field staffer is a god sent). Fairfax County and Virginia also are beneficiaries of this and perhaps the nation will also be in 2008.
Grant's work is essential to building a long-term progressive movement while also having an immediete impact.. He is spending every day this summer identifying, recruiting and organizing armies of volunteers in Northern Virginia that are going out and taking to voters directly. For example, this coming Saturday the Oleszek campaign will have a "mega canvass" with an unprecdented 60+ confirmed volunteers IN JUNE.
These volunteers will hit the streets and find out which voters self identify as Democrats and what issues they care about, thus building a database of volunteers and voter ID's ready to be passed down to Democratic Party of Virginia and all future campaigns.
Virginia Democrats have won three statewide elections in a row; Governor Warner, Governor Kaine and Senator Webb. Make no mistake, the Commonwealth will be a battle ground state in the 2008 elections. The work that Grant is doing today, thanks in large part to your contributions, will undoubtedly assist the eventual Democratic nominees for President and Virginia US Senator in 2008. As a wise man once said, "Virginia is the Normandy Beach of taking back the South." Let's help our leaders that will insure this long-term victory for us.
I Hope that you will join me today in contributing to Next Generation Democrats so that we can continue to support young progressive staffers and allow them the opportunity improve our states and our nation.
Nate de la Piedra
Executive Director, Next Generation Democrats
PS: Something that I saw in 2006 that was really inspirational was "volunteer sponsorship". Those members of our progressive community that are unable to volunteer (due to time, family and various other constraints), contributed a small financial amount to a specified campaign per each hour that their "sponsored" volunteer worked to serve as an extra incentive for those that were able to volunteer.
I hope that we can continue in this spirit and those of us that are not able to volunteer on a campaign in 2007 decide to contribute to Next Generation Democrats so that a young energetic staffer with the energy and skill set to make a difference (but lacking the financial resources) can work in your stead