AL Advising

Philanthropic and Political Consulting

Philanthropy is like wine: good grapes plus good terroir makes good wine. Candidates and organizations are the grapes you wish to cultivate; they need care, pruning, monitoring, and yes, sometimes they need to wither on the vine. Terroir includes the resources you start with and what you can add such as mission, staff, and money.

AL Advising is the winemaker: we work with both donors and organizations to maximize impact.

Where to Invest Now: Political Giving in the Trump Era

It’s time to take a breath. The special elections and Virginia primaries added a sense of urgency to what is typically a sleepy political season. The 24-minute news cycle, egged on by the unhinged Tweets of #NotMyPresident Trump, also add to our anxiety.

But we do need to pause and take stock of where we are and what still needs to be done going forward. Potential political investments fall into three categories: the Resistance; electoral investments and related efforts; and long-term power building in the states.

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Where to give now

The 2018 elections will shape our politics until 2032. There are elections for Governor and the state legislature in 36 states in 2018 (and two in 2017). These are the state and local elected officials who will be in office to oversee redistricting, the process by which we redraw congressional and state legislative districts after the 2020 census. Democrats dropped the ball in 2010 and allowed Tea Party Republicans to partisan gerrymander states from Florida to Pennsylvania to Texas. We in California are lucky to have a non-partisan, citizen-led redistricting commission; however, in 35 states, districts lines are passed like a bill and we therefore need to control one chamber of the state legislature and/or the Governor’s mansion to have any say at all. This is why re-taking the U.S. House remains a challenge – but one that is doable in a wave election year. There are 23 seats held by Republicans but won by Clinton; Democrats need to win 24 seats to retake the majority (and have the subpoena power necessary to investigate the Trump Administration). Additionally, Democrats must defend 25 U.S. Senate seats, 10 of which are in states won by Trump. Essentially, we need to run the table and win in places where we are not used to playing. It is a daunting but critical task, one made slightly easier with the House GOP “repeal and replace” vote on Obamacare last week.

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What we're doing feels insufficient

The 2018 elections will shape our politics until 2032. Since the election of #NotMyPresident Trump, we have seen a huge wave of activism on the Left. Groups like Indivisible, SwingLeft, Flippable, and too many others to name have popped up.  Citizens are calling Members of Congress in unprecedented levels, shutting down the Capitol switchboard. The ACLU raised five times its annual budget in one weekend. Everyone is asking, What Can I Do?

The problem is, what we’re doing feels insufficient. We are so desperate to take action, so desperate to right the wrongs happening every day, that we waste time sending postcards to Paul Ryan in a futile effort to be heard. 

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Maybe it's because I'm a new Mom

I've become a Podcast devotee. I can quietly listen to something without that little screen serving as a Mom and baby distraction.

There are several new political podcasts. Here are a few I recommend:

  • Off Message: Glenn Thrush of Politico does excellent long-form interviews with key political figures.
  • Keepin' it 1600: Jon Favreau and Dan Pfeiffer, Obama White House alums (and former colleagues of mine on the Kerry campaign) offer funny insights into the week's news.
  • The Axe Files with David Axelrod: President Obama's former right-hand strategist interviews politicos and other prominent leaders.
  • Politico's 2016 Nerdcast: Not as informative as I had hoped but some good analysis. 
  • The Pollsters: Bi-partisan duo Margie Omero and Kristen Soltis Anderson discuss new polling in politics, business, pop culture, and the like. Funny and informative on a wonky topic.
  • The West Wing Weekly: a new-ish podcast devoted to re-capping episodes of The West Wing with former castmate Joshua Malina and superfan Hrishikesh Hirway; often has other cast members and writers featured. 

It's not just Hillary

In all the debate and hoopla over playing the women's card and voting for Hillary because she's a woman, it's easy to lose sight of key down-ballot races. 

I'm fortunate to work with Electing Women Silicon Valley, part of the Electing Women Alliance. In 2016, we're focused on electing more women to the U.S. Senate. There are an unprecendented number of qualified women running this cycle -- 10 total -- representing some of the most competitive races in the country. Many are also women of color. EMILY's List and others also work to raise money for these incredible candidates. 

Below are some additional articles: