To Win Back Our Country, Democrats Must Win Back Our States

By Martin O’Malley

To millions of Americans, the past year has sometimes felt like living under a dark cloud—questioning whether government can still be a positive force to strengthen our communities and help provide the basics for families, like good jobs that pay a living wage, access to affordable health care and great schools. But—although it’s not made as many headlines as the parade of horribles from the White House and Congress—there’s also been substantial reason for hope. Like shoots of green sprouting up after a devastating forest fire, Democrats have been running for state and local offices all over the United States, and winning. Teachers and veterans, first-time candidates who are working hard to change America.

Last week’s elections demonstrate that when we show up and make our voices heard, Democrats can win in every corner of America. From Manchester, New Hampshire, whose voters elected their first ever woman mayor, to Topeka, Kansas, where voters elected their first Hispanic mayor, to Washington state, where Manka Dhingra’s win flipped the 45th Senate District, giving Democrats control of all branches of state government.

That’s an important change: Donald Trump’s election as President, while devastating in itself, was also the sour cherry on top of a decade of losses by Democrats at the state level. From 2008 through 2016, more than 900 state house and Governor’s seats turned from Dem to GOP control. That has meant GOP control of redistricting and gerrymandered districts, making it near-impossible for Democrats to pull ourselves out of this hole. And yet, last Tuesday, candidates across America showed exactly how to do it.

Against the dark canvas of Trumpism, these successful candidates had the courage to call forward the goodness within their neighbors as Americans. They offered a more generous, connected, inclusive message of opportunity for all, and emphasized the importance of work, family, and the dignity of every individual. And most of them won by much wider margins than anyone on the ground might have predicted the day before their elections.

We The People turned out in record numbers to embrace the politics of a higher purpose.

That’s how we win. That’s how we win back our states, to win back our country.

With 36 Governor's offices up for grabs in 2018, and the next Congressional redistricting in 2020, now is the time to paint a brighter American future.

I’ve spent my entire adult life working to rebuild and strengthen our states and localities—from my first race for State Senate when I was just 27, to serving as Baltimore’s mayor, to Maryland’s governor, to the Chair of the DGA. I know how much can be accomplished at the state level, whether it’s investing in our schools, ensuring we have clean water, or making sure our families are healthy.

I’m launching Win Back Your State PAC to support good candidates and a new generation of leaders who are stepping up to win back their states—and who in turn, will help us win back the country we carry in our hearts. Our PAC will primarily focus on helping state and local Democratic candidates win elections nationwide in 2018 and beyond, while also aiding federal candidates.

Since Trump's victory, I have visited 21 states to campaign for local candidates or to support progressive organizations, in blue states and deep red ones.

Last Tuesday, Democrats had a great night. But it’s not enough.

Our job in the days ahead is not only to recruit and support good candidates up and down the ballot, but to speak to the goodness within our country, and to call that goodness forward. I believe our best days as Americans are still ahead of us. Now is the time to win back our states, so we can save the United States.

Martin O’Malley is the former Governor of Maryland.

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