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Democratic tech group aims to shake up Republican statehouses in 2024


Tech for Campaigns, a Democratic organization made up of tech industry workers seeking to influence state elections, is expanding its playing field to include six states where Republicans have commanding majorities in state legislatures.

Jessica Alter, the organization’s co-founder and chair, said in an interview that beginning this year, Tech for Campaigns would commit resources to state legislative candidates in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas, in addition to swing states such as Arizona and Michigan where the organization has previously focused.

The move is part of a new, long-term strategy that the organization is calling “Next Ten”: targeting Republican-dominated state capitals where Democrats might have a chance to flip control of the state legislature in the next 10 years.

Tech for Campaigns consists of 17,000 tech workers who are clustered in coastal cities such as San Francisco and New York but who volunteer remotely to help Democrats in state legislative races. This year, they say they’re using artificial intelligence to help create ads and fundraising emails, allowing them to stretch resources further than before.

The organization is unabashedly pro-Democrat, having formed in 2017, a low point for the party, when progressive tech workers in Democratic states decided to think more strategically about helping down-ballot candidates across the country.

Alter said the organization is filling a void where other Democratic organizations have failed to invest.

“Because these places are a little bit more ignored, it’s even more valuable. No one’s knocking down their door to help,” she said.

In contrast to Tech for Campaigns, many conservative tech personalities have backed away from involvement in the 2024 election compared to previous years, but Republican groups have also specifically said they’re leveraging artificial intelligence technology in their election efforts.

Republicans have majorities in each chamber in the Democratic group’s six “Next Ten” state capitals, and in some states, they have supermajorities. In North Carolina, that has meant Republicans can override any veto by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper if they stick together. But the chamber is split 30-20, and Democrats could take away Republicans’ override power if they pick up one seat and keep the governorship.

“So the plan this year is not to flip the North Carolina Senate, for instance, where we’re working very closely, but to break a supermajority,” Alter said.

Democratic state Sen. Jay Chaudhuri said the party’s long-term plan to make North Carolina competitive involves getting new district maps, which will likely require getting more Democrats on the state’s highest court. Last year, a new Republican majority on the state’s Supreme Court allowed new maps far more favorable to Republicans.

Chaudhuri said Tech for Campaigns may help with about five state Senate campaigns this year, with more help expected in years ahead.

“Too often, progressive and Democratic donors are focused much more on the presidential level than the state legislative level. They’re focused too much on winning the election cycle rather than on winning the decade,” he said.

The stakes are rising given the weighty issues facing state lawmakers, from abortion to election administration to LGBTQ rights. And with more than 7,000 people serving in state legislatures, there’s no shortage of candidates with extreme views.

“You’re seeing folks that have signed on to the pledge to remove Texas from the union. You have people that are supported by groups that want to execute people for having abortions,” said Dylan Doody, executive director of the Texas House Democratic Campaign Committee, referring to two ongoing controversies in the state.

Doody said that as a result, Texas has some pickup opportunities for Democrats, and he thinks help from Tech for Campaigns could put them over the top.

“They’re thinking way ahead of where a lot of establishment, old money is thinking,” he said.

Tech for Campaigns helps state legislative candidates in a variety of ways. It assigns volunteers to work closely with campaigns on specific tasks such as website design. Those volunteers also provide ongoing assistance with email fundraising and digital advertising — often using skills from their day jobs at tech companies large and small. Some are helping candidates in states where they grew up, while others have no specific ties to where they are directing their volunteer hours.

The organization also has a political action committee that it uses for voter turnout efforts, separate from campaign work. In the 2020 campaign cycle, it spent $10.5 million, with $6.1 million going to buy ads with Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, according to the nonpartisan research site OpenSecrets. For 2024, the organization said its budget will be $10 million to $14 million across all its programs. Its donors have included OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and Netflix Co-CEO Greg Peters, though its top donors were tech investors Jessica Livingston, who gave $5 million, and Michael Duca, who gave $1.6 million, according to OpenSecrets.

That money and the volunteer help can go a lot further in a state legislative race than in a race for the U.S. Senate, especially in places where state lawmakers aren’t used to outside help.

Texas state Rep. James Talarico said some of his fellow Democrats have bare-bones budgets, but he said it takes $1 million to run in a competitive Texas House district.

“There are groups nationwide that will swoop in and endorse you — provide their name, put you on a website — which is great and any help is appreciated, but there are very few groups that provide tangible help, meaning dollars or volunteers or communications support, and Tech For Campaigns provides all three,” he said.

Talarico said he’s familiar with claims going back many years that Democrats are on the cusp of turning Texas “blue” — claims that have consistently fallen short of reality — and he said what’s been missing is tangible help.

“I’ve come across other organizations that want to see Texas go blue, but not a lot of organizations that have offered tangible help to make that a reality,” he said.


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