Go Blue! Go Wellstone.

August 26, 2014

Starting a campaign from scratch is never easy. It’s especially tough when you’re new to organizing, without years of experience to lean on. But knowing Wellstone’s got your back sure does help.

This is the story of Wellstone Corps. This spring, we hired 25 emerging organizers, from former teachers to recent college grads , and we gave them an important job: hold five of the most radical conservatives in the country accountable for their actions, and win on November 4th in a way that builds community power for the long haul.

To do it, we spent an intense week in Nashville preparing the Corps with the tools, tactics, and strategies they’d need to survive, thrive, and WIN, the Wellstone Way. Then we deployed them across the country, to places like North Carolina, Kentucky, Georgia, Michigan, and Colorado. While they’re in the field, we check in with them weekly to provide them additional training and support. In a few weeks we’ll meet up again for a Get Out The Vote (GOTV) training, and after the election, we’ll reconvene to talk about the experience, and help them launch the next chapter in their careers.

It was in Ann Arbor last week that we met up with the Michigan Wellstone Corps team to get an update. Over burgers and some truly delicious parmesan fries, we talked about their experience: the fun, the challenges, the victories, and the work yet ahead.

Since arriving in Michigan, they’ve hit the ground running, recruiting volunteers, knocking doors, registering voters, opening a campaign office, creating campaign lit, and executing major earned media events.

They’re working against an extremist who’s taken over $5 million from the billionaire Koch brothers. And recently, they recruited volunteers to deliver a massive novelty check to her campaign office in Grand Rapids. It generated plenty of attention, raised awareness about where the candidate’s true loyalties lie, and fired up their volunteers. And that’s just one example of the kind of work Wellstone Corps is doing across the country.

 “We’re constantly going back to what we learned in Nashville,” explains Daniel Cox, “we’re always thinking about what we learned from Wellstone, focusing on our goals and results. From event planning, to executing a phone bank, and understanding the different types of ‘no’s’ we hear when recruiting volunteers, Wellstone set us up to succeed, they gave us a path to victory.”

This Corps of new organizers was immediately welcomed as part of our bigger Wellstone community, and it’s an important part of their Corps experience. As Laura Goslin puts it, “All our conversations, especially our one-on-ones with Corps members from other states, brings the Nashville experience back to us. During a hectic campaign, our Wellstone community is affirming and motivating. We’re all working through tough issues and challenges, but at Wellstone, I know we’re stronger together.”

The Michigan team is making a real difference. Every day they are building progressive community power, talking to voters, empowering volunteers, and holding out-of-touch politicians accountable. “We could not have done this without our week in Nashville,” says Murphy Guinane, “Wellstone gave us new tools and skills, but more importantly, it made us a better team. We are better to each other because of the team building we did with Wellstone. It’s been challenging, building a campaign from the ground up, but when this is done (and we’ve won!), we’re going to be such well-rounded organizers.”

Their work couldn’t be more important. From immigration reform that treats all people with dignity, to a minimum wage that families can actually live on, to securing social security, to making college truly affordable, the stakes are high. But building progressive power means winning a future where “we all do better when we all do better,” instead of one where “you’re on your own.” Wellstone Corps is here to win, not just on November 4th, but for many years to come.