As Connecticut Democrats ready to launch in-person events, state party leaders today celebrated the remarkable achievements of staff and Democrats across the state, which includes negotiating agreements with state and Republican leaders to safely conduct party business and voting, and utilizing innovative virtual platforms to nominate candidates, raise funds, provide campaign training and meet in social gatherings.
“The work of a state party is done in hundreds of meetings and gatherings throughout the year, so when the pandemic shut down the state, it brought everything we do to a halt,” State Chair Nancy DiNardo said. “The staff did the research, figured out how to make virtual platforms work and made events happen that we had never even considered. I couldn’t be more proud of what we accomplished.”
The state party will launch a summer series of social gatherings, house parties and fundraisers tonight, aimed at reconnecting Democrats across the state. Tonight’s event will be at the home of West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor.
Shortly after Connecticut shut down in mid-March 2020, the Connecticut Democrats worked with Republican counterparts and Secretary of the State Denise Merrill to reach agreement on conducting party business virtually and a COVID excuse for absentee ballots, both of which were not allowed under state law until then. (Year in review video here)
Then, learning themselves about how to operate on virtual platforms, the state party held fundraisers that included Broadway legends Harvey Fierstein and Patti LuPone, and U.S. Representatives Jaime Raskin (MD) and Ayanna Presley (MA); a discussion on race relations with tennis great James Blake; a statewide convention with over 1000 delegates; nominating conventions for 142 House, 36 Senate and five U.S. Congressional races; daily briefings and events for the four-day Democratic National Convention; trainings to help local Democrats campaign in a pandemic; and a three-hour, live Election Night program that featured former anchor Diane Smith, Governor Lamont and other state leaders, and nearly every member of the state’s Congressional delegation from remote locations across the state, and launched two podcasts.
DiNardo said the virtual platforms made it possible to include celebrities and party leaders from across the country in fundraisers and issue briefings. That brought hundreds of participants, many of whom had the opportunity to join in with questions.
Trainings and social gatherings for party leaders, candidates and campaign staffers provided much-needed assistance in a challenging election year. Participants were able to talk with colleagues and experts about ways to safely knock on doors and talk about issues of concern to voters, DiNardo said.
The live Election Night program enabled Democrats across the state, who could not gather for a traditional event, to hear from elected leaders on the outcome of the election.
“We are all looking forward to meeting in person again in the coming months, but it’s important to recognize how much work the state party put in to support our members over the past year,” DiNardo said.
Democratic State Party accomplishments and events: Year in review video linked here
State Party & Election Business
· Negotiated agreement for virtual state party business with SOTS and Republicans;
· Negotiated agreement for COVID-excuse absentee ballots;
· Virtual nominating conventions (May/June 2020)
o Identify and test platforms;
o Five Congressional conventions;
o 142 State House and 36 Senate.
· Democratic State Convention (May 2020)
o State Central Committee elections;
o Chose Presidential electors.
· State Central Committee meetings
· Voter outreach support for local campaigns:
o More than a million texts to voters;
o Digital advertising that reached more than a million voters;
o 25,000 phone calls;
o 130,000 pieces of direct mail.
· Voter Protection Program – recruited and deployed team of lawyers to protect voters’ rights on Election Day;
· Daily distribution of news clips to Democrats across the state.
Democratic National Convention (August 2020)
· Daily breakfast zoom calls with delegates;
· Four days of virtual panel discussions and meetings for delegates that featured special guests US Senator Amy Klobuchar, US Representative Jim Clyburn, Beto O’Rourke, Howard Dean;
· Created “Why Biden Harris in Six Words” video for regional DNC event, featuring Harvey Fierstein, James Naughton and Javier Colon;.
· Covid-safe, in-person event to watch Joe Biden and Kamala Harris accept their nominations for President and Vice President at Yard Goats Stadium.
Virtual Election Night
· Three-hour program with former television anchor Diane Smith conducting interviews with Governor Lamont, LG Bysiewicz, members of Congress and standout General Assembly winners;
· Maximized available technology to create broadcast look for zoom platform with framing and lower thirds;
· Conducted virtual press room, where reporters across the state could get direct election night comments from elected leaders.
Virtual Fundraisers, Social Events and Caucuses
· Harvey Fierstein
· Patti LuPone
· James Blake
· PA Lt. Gov. John Fetterman
· U.S. Rep. Jaime Raskin (MD)
· U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley (MA)
· U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (NY)
· U.S. Rep. Jim Himes beekeeping demonstration
· Attorney General William Tong on cooking
· MN Attorney General Keith Ellison in conversation with CT AG Tong
· Democratic National Committee Chair Jaime Harrison
· Mayor Van Johnson, Savannah, GA
· Connecticut Black Women’s Leadership panel discussion
· Connecticut Hispanic Women’s Leadership panel discussion
· Sexism in Politics & How To End It panel discussion
· Centralized Black Lives Matter demonstration events on website
· Women’s Caucus
· LGBTQ Caucus
· Black Caucus
· AAPI Caucus
· Connecticrats – weekly conversation on timely policy topics hosted by Digital Director Dave Kostek and College Democrats President Michael Cerrulli;
· Shattering the Glass Ceiling – weekly talk with Connecticut women about success in politics and business, hosted by Executive Director Jacqueline Kozin and Party Affairs Director Tenaiya Baker.
· Legislation Overview– understanding legislative changes and how to talk about them;
· How-to trainings on fundraising, data management, voter outreach, digital advertising, messaging and communications and volunteer recruitment for candidates and campaign staff.