Eden here. You don’t hear from me often, but when I have something I have to get off my chest, I put pen to paper.
This is hard to write about. I’m still figuring out how to tell this story.
Where do I begin?
Amidst the hellscape that was January 2021, friends and campaign professionals and government side workers began to debrief and process the 2020 election cycle.
It was a really hard, terrible, confusing time for everyone. We talked about how there were some huge, huge problems in this country that we, as individuals, simply could not control. We talked about leaving the industry. But none of us really wanted to leave. We wanted to stick around and fight, but for what? Where should we focus our efforts? That was the question at hand.
We started to think about what we don’t like about this industry-- and this country -- and where we, as individuals, could possibly make an impact.
We kept turning back the to broken pipeline that exists in Democratic politics, especially the huge financial barriers that make it hard for working-class and poor staff and candidates to get their foot in the door.
For example: To be a campaign professional, it is expected that staff own a car to drive across the district— without reimbursement for wear and tear put on the vehicle, and often without guaranteed reimbursement for mileage.
Staff are expected to have a high quality phone and laptop to do their work effectively. Staff are expected to move across the country on their own dime.
And candidates suffer from similar requirements: having access to personal funds to start up the campaign, having the privilege to quit their day jobs in order to campaign full time, the list goes on.
We kept talking about it and talking about it, and there was one phrase everyone kept repeating:
Barrier To Entry.
That’s what started all of this: some deeply frustrated staffers sick of seeing good people get sidelined because they are working class and poor.
We tried to make sense of it all and chart a new path via Zoom.
We rolled up our sleeves, defined our mission, established goals, and got to work. From day one, we have operated under the framework that the people who are closest to the problems are also closest to the solutions.
So what is Barrier To Entry PAC? What is this “thing” we built? What is a PAC?
Quite frankly, this is a vehicle for some 20 and 30 something-year-olds to move money and resources where we see fit. After getting to know this industry from the inside out, we knew creating a political action committee would sharpen our impact.
Unlike a lot of PACs, we are frugal with our overheads so we can give our candidates real resources; this is mostly volunteer driven.
We are David and the people that uphold these barriers are Goliath…. And we are done bringing knives to a gunfight. Done. Done. Done.
We have done enough pussy footing around what is broken in this industry. We are ready to fight for a better system. Dollar by dollar, we are raising the resources we need to flip local seats and rewrite the rules about who gets to run for office and work on campaigns.
We are winning. In 2021 alone, we won three local races in three different states.
Mayor Peter Schwartzman of Galesburg, Illinois (which went for Trump) took out an 8-year incumbent with leftist messaging and authentic leadership. We led Peter’s fundraising and supported him financially. He took out a wealthy mayor who owned the radio station and newspaper with the $15,000 we helped him raise.
Mayor Ed Gainey of Pittsburgh took out a Democratic incumbent and became the city’s first Black mayor by championing policies like affordable housing that reflect his lived experience and the experience of his community. We featured Mayor Gainey in our launch series and cut him a check for $1,000 to support paying an intern.
Dayton City Commissioner Shenise Sloss-Turner defeated an entrenched slate of conservative Democrats and crossed the finish line as the top vote getter (by a longshot) by championing key issues in her community like police reform and affordable housing and access to grocery stores. We sent Shenise $2,500 and led her fundraising efforts to raise $60,000, the majority of which was spent organizing her community.
Currently, we are supporting:
Jessica Mason is a strong progressive running for Congress in Texas’ 30th district. We cut her a check for $2,000 — and just cut her another one for and worked to bring other organizations into the fold to support her. We helped her produce a $25,000 ad with just $2,000 — because we called in favors from friends in the industry, are scrappy, and determined. (We are currently editing and will be ready to show you in early January!) We are cutting another $2,000 check for her as we speak to support her field program launch.
Amy Vilela is running for Congress in Nevada’s first district. We are also cutting her a $2,000 check today. We have made phone calls to solicit grassroots contributions to fuel her progressive campaign, and we will deploy our team and volunteers to knock doors and make phone calls to support her when the time comes.
Barrier To Entry PAC is a vehicle for this community to move the needle without having to ask for permission or “wait our turn.”
To tell you the truth, when we started this PAC, we had no clue if we would succeed. We had no clue if we would reach our goals to build a financially stable organization with a narrow, focused scope of work that could be considered very niche.
As it turns out, this message resonates with a lot of people, perhaps more people than we even imagined. When politicos, voters, and non-voters alike hear this message, they nod their heads. It makes them think. It makes them want to do things differently.
Since we officially launched in April, we have successfully elevated the phrase “barrier to entry.” Already, we have seen this language begin to pop up, and we have seen these discussions start to take off about who gets to work in politics, and who gets pushed away.
The article makes the point that the current talent pipeline “is intentionally exclusive, and has significant barriers that prevent transformational leaders from successfully running for office.”
We are doing the damn thing. We are changing the narrative.
This past year has been quite a journey. In the last nine months, we have been humbled by your support over and over, we have learned and grown and built out the coalition.
Thanks for being here. You give us the fuel we need to drive the ball up the hill and deliver for the candidates and staff we support. It means so much to us. We see your names, and we are grateful.
Have a wonderful New Year, be safe, and wear your damn mask.
BARRIER TO ENTRY PAC supports candidates and campaign staff from working class backgrounds as they carve their paths in the Democratic political space. We provide direct cash assistance for essential items like phones, cars, laptops, and living stipends -- which often times, these candidates and their campaigns don't have access to. We also serve as a resource for individual mentorship and training to ensure candidates and their staff feel supported and equipped to enter the political space.
Pitch in today to help provide necessary support and resources for working class candidates today! >>
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Barrier To Entry PAC
PO Box 6623
Cleveland, OH 44101
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