Just because President Barack Obama made it into office years ago doesn't mean it was the end for his campaign operations team. His most ardent campaigners are still around, and now, they're changing up their mission to get involved with the upcoming races. The remains of his campaign crew turned into a political committee called Organizing for Action, which has a 2018 midterm strategy for the upcoming elections, according to The New York Times.
Organizing for Action is gearing up for the midterm campaign, which will focus on flipping dozens of Republican-occupied congressional districts as well as some important key elections, USA Today reported. The group intends to organize and train volunteers who will travel to key political areas to help Democrats. Organizing for Action will also hone in on more specific elections, like the gubernatorial race in Florida, that could have an impact on congressional redistricting after the 2020 census.
“This is an all-hands-on-deck moment for the progressive movement,” Organizing for Action spokesman Jesse Lehrichhe said in a statement to The New York Times on their grass-roots strength. “We’re fired up that O.F.A. can play its part by doing what we do best — community organizing.’’
Initiatives are also on the group's to-do list; according to POLITICO, Organizing for Action will push for certain ballot initiatives in nine states in partnership with the National Democratic Redistricting Committee.
According to POLITICO, the organization revealed in a statement that it is “prioritizing 27 districts whose representatives have consistently advanced the interests of the wealthy and the well-connected at the expense of hard-working families. O.F.A. volunteer teams will organize in each district to amplify support on the ground for candidates who will actually fight for their constituents."
The full immersion into the 2018 midterm efforts is a strikingly different approach than the one the group took in years past. POLITICO reported that Organizing for Action has usually deliberately avoided campaigns, outwardly declaring that its purpose was in working with and pressuring politicians, not in direct political engagement. The group has historically spent its time targeting policies more than electoral politics. But this new agenda was influenced by a meeting in February between Obama and political strategists, including Organizing for Action's executive director, Katie Hogan, according to The New York Times. The meeting revealed what the former president has on his mind, which, according to The New York Times, is to snatch back the House and bolster Democrats' standing as the redistricting unfolds.
Of course, Obama's involvement in anything can be polarizing for Americans. In fact, some predict that an Obama-related organization would only spur the Republicans on to become even more involved in the midterm fights.
“No one motivates Republican voters like Barack Obama,” Matt Gorman, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said to The New York Times. “We thank his political organization for their in-kind contribution to keeping G.O.P. control of the House. Maybe they should’ve taken the advice of many in their own party and closed up shop after 2016.”
After Obama left office, there haven't been very many political appearances on his part. He came back last year to help support the Democratic candidates for governor in New Jersey and Virginia but hasn't gotten heavily involved in the political sphere aside from that. Obama does not have a title or an official role with Organizing for Action, but he does have close relationships with those in charge: his former advisors run the group. It will be a hard-fought battle to take back the House, and in November, Obama's influence might be the small difference between the status quo and overturning the political stratosphere.