Advance Notice: Briefs

2020 organizing effort in Detroit looks to attract college Dems

By: - March 24, 2019 5:11 pm

The Michigan Democratic Party is recruiting college juniors to work this summer in Detroit to become field organizers for the 2020 presidential election.

Tom Perez

The program, which is called Organizing Corps 2020, is a national project created, in part, by the Democratic National Committee (DNC). It will be carried out in 10 other cities: Atlanta; Charlotte; Fayetteville, N.C.; Ft. Lauderdale; Miami; Milwaukee; Orlando; Phoenix; Philadelphia; and Tampa.

“We know that the key to defeating Donald Trump in 2020 is to organize early and put the best team in place to motivate Democratic voters to make their voices heard,” said DNC chair Tom Perez.

“Organizing Corps 2020 will build a powerful pipeline of young talent — energized Democrats who reflect the diversity of their communities. This new organizing program will help us grow the party, win more elections, and build the organizing infrastructure our nominee will need to take back the Oval Office.”

Democratic Party presidential nominees had won Michigan in every U.S. presidential election between 1992 and 2012. Trump, a Republican, won Michigan in 2016 by 10,704 votes.

MDP Chair Lavora Barnes celebrates victory, Feb. 2, 2019 | Ken Coleman

Lavora Barnes, the first African-American woman elected as Michigan Democratic Party chair, said she is excited about the effort.

“[The DNC] has a real interest in communities of color and making sure that we are giving our young folks who don’t always have a path into politics an opportunity,” Barnes said.

Corps members will be paid $4,000 over the course of the eight-week program. They will gain experience in leadership, project management and communications, according to Barnes.

The program will run from June 10 to Aug. 2 and will kick off with a five-day national training led by campaign veterans, where corps members will learn key skills in field and digital organizing, and data analytics. For the remaining seven weeks, corps members return to their home communities and be trained in organizing and registering voters.

“If we don’t start now to work on 2020, we will find ourselves flat-footed when a presidential nominee is selected and wants to come to Michigan and get to work,” Barnes said. “We want to have an organization already set up and ready to go when that presidential nominee is selected.”

Zoë Pidgeon, president of the Wayne State University College Democrats and eastern regional director of the Michigan Federation of College Democrats, agreed with Barnes.

“The program is not only important but attractive because, unlike many internships in politics, it offers compensation and a way for students with little experience in community organizing to get trained and dig deep into the organizing community,” Pidgeon said.

The application process is open until April 8.

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Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman writes about Southeast Michigan, history and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on Black life in Detroit.