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Build From the Grassroots

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UNDER THE MOTTO “A Future Worth Fighting For,” Progressive Majority is focusing not just on the 2004 election, but on cultivating a progressive movement that can change the face of politics from the bottom up. Arguing that progressives have left candidate recruitment to conservative and moderate Democrats for too long, Progressive Majority has developed a strategy to recruit and develop progressive candidates at all levels.

“We don't want to set up a third party,” Gloria Totten, Progressive Majority's executive director says. “We believe the most important thing the progressive movement can do is gain a governing majority.”

To establish an infrastructure for building a “farm team” of progressive candidates, Progressive Majority will create state candidate advisory councils composed of local progressive leaders who will seek out grassroots leaders. The first advisory councils will be formed in five states that are typically presidential battlegrounds. From those, Progressive Majority will expand its efforts each election cycle.

Progressive Majority also will provide training through the recently formed Wellstone Action (see Survival Guide, page 45) and other organizations in campaign strategy, fundraising, public presentations, and staffing. Candidates will receive mentoring from progressive politicians and advisory council members and access to the Progressive Donor Network. And Progressive Majority will help the candidates connect to one another and to a national coalition of progressive organizations.

Through building state-level infrastructure and national-level coordination and support, Progressive Majority hopes to make the progressive agenda a permanent part of the political environment.

This commonsense strategy has been met with enthusiasm, and Totten suspects others will soon seize upon her model and begin to develop progressive infrastructure in states around the country. Indeed, Totten encourages activists to do just that. “Don't wait for us to come to your state,” she says. “Go ahead and start organizing for yourselves.”

More information on recruitment: www.progressivemajority.org

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