Catherine Lyons is a writer, graduate student of public policy at Georgetown University, and advocate for progressive issues such as immigration reform. The views expressed here are her own.
Thought the 2016 election was finally over? Not quite.
Democrats have one more shot to gain a seat in the U.S. Senate, which could be vital to quelling President-elect Donald Trump’s agenda. And it's not too late to make a difference in the race.
On December 10, Louisianans will go back to the polls to elect their next senator. The state of Louisiana participates in a “jungle primary,” in which every candidate is on the general election ballot. If no one wins a majority of votes, it goes to a runoff between the top two. This year, the election’s last race comes down to Republican John Kennedy and Democrat Foster Campbell.
Normally, a Senate race in Louisiana wouldn’t catch the attention of Democrats nationwide. But after Hillary Clinton’s devastating loss last month to Donald Trump, as well as significant losses in Congress, people are paying closer attention to races down the ballot, and right now, all eyes are on the bayou.
As a former New Orleans resident, my social media feeds have been scattered with news stories about Foster Campbell since November 8, as weary Democrats, myself included, struggled with an unexpected loss and sought out ways to help the cause and mitigate the expected negative impact of the policies touted on the campaign trail.
Even with a win in Louisiana, the Senate Democrats would only have 49 seats to Republicans’ 51. Still. But the split would mean one less vote needed from across the aisle for big decisions like repealing Obamacare, passing the federal budget (which could include funds for construction of Trump's wall), and Supreme Court confirmations. TL;DR: A Foster Campbell win in Louisiana could help Democrats in our fight to block Trump's agenda.
So, who is this last hope for Democrats? Campbell is a longtime politician — he served as a state senator for 26 years before running unsuccessfully for governor against Bobby Jindal. He is also a cattle farmer, and he sits on the state’s Public Service Commission. He’s won endorsements from the current Democratic governor and Democrats across the country for his progressive positions on Medicaid expansion, equal pay, increasing the minimum wage, and disability rights. Meanwhile, his opponent John Kennedy is a staunch Trump supporter and falls in lock step with the president-elects' policies.
Louisiana has gone red in every presidential election since 2000, and polls currently have Campbell down against his Republican opponent. But the state did elect a Democratic senator, Mary Landrieu, three times in the past 20 years. So there is hope, and volunteers can help close the gap.
Here are four ways you can help elect Foster Campbell to the U.S. Senate.
Phone bank — from anywhere
Leila Gowland, a native New Orleanian and volunteer for the Campbell campaign, encourages everyone who is interested in volunteering to phone bank. “Since it’s likely to be a low-turnout race overall, phone banking to get supporters to the polls can make a tremendous difference,” Gowland, who is hosting her own IRL meetups at her house and at an art gallery above a bar, said. “Even if you’re not in Louisiana, phone banking remotely has never been easier, and people are usually pretty friendly.”
For those looking to help from outside the Bayou State, visit this site to sign up for a Campbell digital phone bank that you can run from your laptop. Not in the mood to talk on the phone? You can also text voters!
If you’re in Louisiana, go out and canvass
As Gowland said, it’s likely going to be a low turnout election. Voters, especially Democrats, are tired and there is a higher likelihood of drop-off from the presidential election. If you’re in Louisiana, go knock on doors for Campbell and drum up support from your neighbors. Visit Campbell’s volunteer link to sign up.
It’s easy. It’s fast. It makes a big difference. Go here to donate to his campaign.
Foster Campbell is all over social media. Share his posts on Facebook and Twitter, and rally your friends to donate or volunteer.
Most of these actions can be done in less time than it takes to catch up on Alex Baldwin's latest Trump spoof on Saturday Night Live. But the impact could be huge — and lasting. Need more convincing? Molly Ruben-Long, a comedian who until very recently lived in New Orleans, usually includes a joke in her standup routine that perfectly captures the stakes of Louisiana’s subpar record when it comes to women’s rights — especially the right to choose.
"I like my state like I like my men: broken and disregarding of all my civil liberties," she quips.
Electing a Democratic senator would send a message to Louisiana residents that everyone — women, people of color, the disabled, or LGBTQ — deserve protection of their civil liberties and equality of opportunity. Let’s all do our part to help fix Louisiana, and our country, and finish out the election year on a high note.