What’s Next: Reflections on the 2018 California Primaries

by Andrea Marta

“If you haven’t gone 0–8 you haven’t played this game long enough; if you haven’t gone 0–50 you haven’t played this game long enough” — Coach Rob Abel

My son started playing baseball when he was six. His coaches and others could see he had talent. He gradually became a big fish in a little pond in his league and decided that he wanted more. The past year we found a new program and surrounded him with amazing coaches. He now is a little fish in a big pond, playing starting shortstop, pitching and hitting lead off. The kids he plays against are bigger and they pitch harder. Over the past three tournaments his batting average was .150. For the non-sports folks, that means he has hit three times in his last 20 at bats, he also has been walked a handful of times.

This past Sunday something clicked for him — it was the last inning, he was at bat, his team was down by two, bases loaded and two outs. Either he was going to win the game for his team or he was going to strike out … He stood in the batters box and didn’t shy away from the opportunity. He hit a walk off double. All those curve balls (he had never seen those until this season), and fast balls, change ups that he swung at and missed had all been part of what he needed to see so that he could hit that double.

I have to be honest, Election night was a bittersweet moment for me — We stood at the plate and saw the curve coming and we buckled at the knees and couldn’t get the bat around. While others were successful in electing reform-minded District Attorneys like Diana Becton in Contra Costa — and collectively we increased the number of voters who voted down ballot — we didn’t impact all the races we wanted on Tuesday.

On Election day, I drove the state; sitting with and building with amazing organizers, clergy, staff and volunteer leaders. Women of color in these spots (Jessica Martin in Stanislaus, Tere Flores in Sacramento and Sloane Noel-Johnson in Alameda) took on a challenge that many of us have never stepped into — they invested and worked to move voters of color to the polls in a mid-term primary for a down ballot race.

People are paying attention to these races, and they aren’t going to go backward. They’re paying attention and prosecutors won’t be allowed to operate in the shadows, without accountability, any longer.

Our opponents — law enforcement associations who have too much invested in keeping the status quo in place — poured thousands of dollars into the DAs’ races. But their days in power are numbered because people across California are getting energized. We want to elect leaders who understand that their responsibility is to Californians first, not special interests.

Our Theory of Change isn’t proven right only if the candidate who lines up with the issues we care about most wins. In fact, our job is not to help any candidate win. Our job is to make sure our voters, voters of color, not only turnout to vote but shape the issues that candidates are talking about, that they have built power when it is all done to hold candidates accountable, to transform our communities.

We had over 57,000 live conversations with voters in Sacramento, Stanislaus and Alameda counties and we did this by hiring people directly impacted, elevating the leadership of women of color, cracking the wall we’ve kept hitting around to reach voters of color who have cell phones and are ignored by everyone else, and treating candidate forums like job interviews.

I know it’s easy to point fingers or participate in Monday morning quarterback. Instead, I spent these days checking in with our staff and leaders to see how they were feeling. The first call I got was from our folks in Modesto — 8:18 am the day after Election Day — “ok what’s next.” Our people are resilient.

Our opponents are playing hardball with us, but the only way for us to get ready is to jump in and play.

And let’s also be clear — there is another at bat, there are probably a hundred more at bats over the next four years as we hold these folks accountable. Oh yeah … and in Stanislaus we pushed the race to a run off and have until November to push the candidates … and we have another three to four races left nationally.

Our team will be meeting next week to debrief, to plan and to make sure that we don’t let the prosecutors who are back in office now think they won. And like any good lead off hitter we will share out what kind of stuff the opposing team has …

Alex Rodriguez hit 696 home runs in his career, he is in the top 5 on the all-time home run list — he also is 5th on career strike outs with 2287; if you don’t take a risk… you cant hit a homerun.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

Andrea Marta is the executive director of the Faith in Action Fund, an entity dedicated to influencing political races and forcing candidates to be responsive to the communities they serve.