Progressive campaigns nationwide get a silent partner

usatoday.com
WASHINGTON — Tomas Robles wanted to develop “homegrown talent” in a campaign to boost Arizona’s minimum wage, involving a young and diverse team rather than a bunch of outside consultants. But he still needed additional campaign expertise.
The chairman of Arizonans for Fair Wages and Healthy Families turned last spring to a new, high-powered non-profit organization called “The Hub Project” that has quietly begun providing behind-the-scenes support for progressive campaigns. They not only provided legal, mentoring and strategy support, but they kicked in $50,000 for the campaign to hire a communications director.
“They helped us really perfect the message and make sure we’re consistent,” he said.
And now the lessons learned by The Hub Project in Arizona — where the minimum wage increased to $10 per hour on Sunday — can be taken elsewhere.
The Hub is designed not to take center stage, but to fill gaps in expertise and provide something progressive donors have long felt is missing from the issue campaigns they support: coordination.
Campaigns are often run separately and organizers end up reinventing best practices for messaging and tactics, said Zach Silk, an adviser to one of The Hub’s major donors, Nick Hanauer, a venture capitalist and civic activist. The idea behind The Hub Project is to give organizers a “hub” of best practices and knowledge they can turn to so they can spend their resources better and achieve more, he said.
“It’s the thing that has been missing in the movement,” Silk said. “There hasn’t been a central coordinating organization that was able to do strategy, message, distribute it across the movement and allow others to go out and focus on the winning and the hard organizing.”
The team of 16 staff members, based in D.C., is focusing on economic and democracy-related issues — courts, voting, elections — hoping to build stronger issue advocacy at the federal and state level by offering extra help on digital strategy, grass-roots organizing, communications, messaging, polling, political action and policy.
They provided digital coordination and content for dozens of groups working on the “We Need Nine” campaign that called on Republicans to give Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland a hearing, which he never got.
“Everybody’s budgets are pretty tight and when and organization like The Hub can bring real creativity and a strategic sense, I think it helps out a lot,” said Stephanie CutterPresident Obama’s 2012 deputy campaign manager and former adviser who led the campaign.
Several members of the team have worked at some point for the research and advocacy organization, Center for American Progress, founded by Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta, and for the public affairs agency SKDKnickerbocker, where Obama’s former communications director Anita Dunn is the managing director. The executive director Arkadi Gerney previously worked for former New York City mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and managed the Mayors Against Illegal Guns national coalition.
Major donors include Hanauer, the American Federation of Teachers union and the Wyss Foundation. The organization doesn’t disclose other donors and it’s not required to, under the rules for nonprofit organizations.  The group will launch a website in early January, but they’re only intending a slight increase in their profile. They plan to work with many organizations around the country in the upcoming debate on health care and on other campaigns in the same way they have since the spring.
“We’re going from no profile to low profile,” Gerney said. “We’re not a big mystery and we want people to know what we do and what our mission is. But for the most part the way that we want to work is behind the scenes.”
Republicans have had success working with behind-the-scenes partners on messaging and strategy. Silk pointed to the American Legislative Exchange Council, called ALEC, as an example of a conservative organization that serves as a “centralized clearinghouse of information,” spreading model bills and best practices on limited government, free markets and federalism to state legislators. The Koch brothers’ network has similar coordination through its advocacy group, Americans for Prosperity.
“The right and conservative organizations have done a great job at creating complimentary strategies between organizations,” said Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, an assistant professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University. “On the left, you tend to see more duplication and not learning from each other or past efforts.”
It’s harder for progressives to craft a shared strategy because they represent a wide array of immediate needs and interests as opposed to Republicans' focus on maintaining the status quo, said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. That’s why The Hub Project will play an important role.
“It essentially creates a place to have a shared strategy on issues with groups that might seem disparate,” she said. “But actually, if you spend two and a half nanoseconds together, you find that you’re working on different angles of the same issue.”
The Hub could be a powerful force in the progressive movement if it focuses on building up the next generation of leaders and helping guide existing campaigns to make their own strategic decisions, said Neil Sroka, communications director for the progressive Democracy for America
Progressive campaigns nationwide get a silent partner Progressive campaigns nationwide get a silent partner Reviewed by Usa Tv on January 02, 2017 Rating: 5

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