October 14, 2021
The group, Leaders for American Democracy, will include officials from city councils and state legislatures as well as state attorney generals and secretaries of state. It was created by End Citizens United/Let America Vote, which will bankroll its efforts; the organization plans to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars convening and strategizing with the officials.
The group will serve as a clearinghouse for members to share strategies, messaging and policy proposals on how to expand voting access when possible and counteract Republican elected officials’ Donald Trump-inspired attempts to undermine confidence in elections.
Trump has already endorsed Republican secretary of state candidates in Michigan, Arizona and Georgia, all of whom have echoed his lies about the 2020 election. He’s also backing state lawmakers in Arizona, Texas and Wisconsin who have pushed for audits of the election results. There is no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential election.
“What’s alarming about what Republicans are doing is they have a incredibly coordinated and sophisticated campaign,” said Georgia state Rep. Bee Nguyen (D), who is running for secretary of state in the Peach State, citing how GOP elected officials across the country have made similar false complaints about the 2020 election results and introduced similar pieces of legislation restricting voting rights. “I think that we can strengthen our movement by making sure that we are coordinating across the country.”
The group’s initial roster includes several Democrats who are considered rising stars in their home states, including Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford, Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold and Richmond, Virginia, Mayor Levar Stoney.
“The attacks on our democracy won’t stop,” Stoney said. “We need a unified effort to push back.”
But the group is also aiming to promote lower-profile members: It hopes one-quarter of its membership will run for higher office by 2024. It plans on having 250 members by the end of 2021, with another 250 joining next year.
The focus will be on recruiting members in the key swing states where Republicans could try to undermine election results in 2024: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Wisconsin and Virginia.
Nguyen said the group will need to focus on battling audits and attempts to restricting voting rights now, while also preparing for a showdown in 2024. The biggest challenge, she said, might be reminding Americans of the threat democracy faces.
“What I fear is that, generally speaking, people are not aware of how urgent this threat is to our democracy, in part because, you know we are in a space where we are burnt out from every election cycle,” she said. “For most folks, we believe in the strength of our democracy, and that America is a country that will continue to be a democratic republic.”
But Nguyen — the daughter of Vietnamese refugees — said her family background shows there is no guarantee democracy will continue indefinitely.
“The writing was on the wall, all the signs were there, but they never, ever believed that they would lose their country, and they did,” Nguyen said. “And I think that we are in this moment, right now, the writing is on the wall, all the signs are there. And we’ve got to make this the most pressing issue for Americans.”