Who’s Behind Forgotten Democrats
Forgotten Democrats is a project of Every State Blue.
Every State Blue
Every State Blue, formerly known as It Starts Today, was founded after the 2016 election by Jonathan Zucker, former COO and CEO of ActBlue. In 2017, Michele Hornish joined Every State Blue, and soon thereafter we launched our first state-based project in Missouri. Together with ESB board member, accomplished author, and former Democratic Party Chair David Pepper, ESB launched Blue Ohio in 2022. And in late 2022, ESB launched Blue Texas – a partnership with Power the Vote that supports Democratic nominees and permanent voter protection.
Through its various projects, Every State Blue has raised and distributed over $2 million to Democratic nominees at the state and federal level.
Fred is a political consultant, public relations executive, and Army veteran with 36+ years of experience leading or consulting top organizations and individuals.
After having served as the Lincoln Project’s Senior Advisor for Veterans Affairs, he took over as LP’s Executive Director and transformed it from a campaign to a long-term organization. He also served as Senior Advisor to Luke Mixon for Senate in Louisiana, and to Marcus Flowers for Georgia.
Wellman served in the U.S. Army for 22 years as an aviator and public affairs officer, including four combat tours. After retiring, he led an award-winning public relations and veteran’s advocacy firm, and in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic served as Administrative Chief of Staff of the New York Presbyterian Ryan F. Larkin Field Hospital in NYC. Wellman is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and the Harvard Kennedy School.
David is a lawyer, accomplished author, political activist, and former elected official. He also teaches election law and voting rights.
He served as the Chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party between 2015 and 2021. During law school he was named “most likely to be president … of the Cincinnati Board of Tourism.”
Michele is a lawyer, highly sought-after communications consultant, and the Executive Director of Every State Blue.
She founded Small Deeds Done, a political action site featured in the New York Times bestseller Good And Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger.
Since 2017 she has focused on Every State Blue’s state-based projects, Blue Missouri, Blue Ohio, and Blue Texas.
Jonathan Zucker is a political technology entrepreneur and campaign finance attorney. He was the first COO and second CEO of ActBlue.
He has also served at the DNC as National Director of Operations for Finance.
How Forgotten Democrats Works
Think of us as crowdfunders and community builders.
We make it easy for you to join a community of people just like you who want to encourage Democrats to run in some of the reddest districts in America. Our community members chip in just a few dollars a month (our average is $14). Those funds go directly to the Democratic nominees, and to recruit, train, and encourage Democrats running in Red America.
For a few dollars a month (that's less than you might spend on a cup of coffee) you can be sure we're fighting everywhere. You'll know that you're supporting Democratic nominees that would otherwise be left behind. And as a monthly program, you just set it and forget it, knowing that you’re doing your part – no matter what else you have going on.
By joining our Forgotten Democrats community, you’re making sure Democrats have resources to fight in every corner of the country – without breaking a sweat. Kicking in a few bucks a month is doable, and powerful, over the long term.
You’re not alone. Thousands of people just like you want Dems to fight everywhere too. We bring you together with meetings and events – creating communities of people dedicated to democracy. You’ve found your people.
After the primary, Forgotten Democrats distributes community funds directly to the Democratic nominees who need your help the most with our unique “bottom-up bathtub” method. And you rest easy, knowing that you are part of the solution. Job done.
Our community funds the races that are usually left behind using our unique “bottom-up bathtub” model. After the primary, we look at how much each campaign has raised. Then we distribute community funds first to those nominees who have raised the least. By starting from the bottom up, we raise everyone’s “water level” to create a funding floor. That way, every nominee has a base level of support.
How Forgotten Democrats Helps
We have the data to prove it.
(C'mon, we're Democrats. Of course we did a study!)
Running Nominees Matters
Just having a nominee for on the ballot increases the vote share for the top of the ticket by 1.5%.
But in 2020, 23 Congressional Districts had no Democratic nominee on the ballot.
The over 17.5 million Americans live in those 23 districts didn't have the option to vote for a Democrat for the U.S. House... because there wasn't one on the ballot.
Districts with no Democratic nominee
Americans in Districts with no nominee
Funding Nominees Matters
There's more: Funding nominees boosts turnout, too. In fact, funding a challenger at $0.36 per eligible voter increases turnout by 1%.
But in 2022, another 126 Congressional Districts were underfunded – averaging just $62,386 to reach over 762,000 people.
Those 126 Districts include another 96.1 million Americans, who probably didn't hear from their cash-strapped Democratic nominee.
Americans in Districts with an underfunded nominee
Running Funded Nominees = Massive, Data-Backed Impact
That's just under 113.7 million Americans left behind – either because they didn't have the option to vote for a Democrat for the U.S. House, or because the nominee didn't have what they needed to run a real campaign.
There are 331 million Americans.
If we don't run supported nominees in every Congressional district, we are leaving votes on the table – and one third of the country behind.
Americans Left Behind
Here's the good news:
Reaching those 113.7 million forgotten Americans is as simple as running and supporting Democratic nominees.
You can help make that happen.
What You Get When You Join Forgotten Democrats
Membership in the only grassroots community that's focused on making sure every Democratic nominee for Congress has resources to run a campaign.
If you're a member at the $10/month level or more, you're automatically invited to participate in our members-only monthly Forgotten Democrats Team calls with Fred Wellman, David Pepper, Jessica Piper, and special guests.
Knowledge that you are boosting the vote share for the top of the ticket and local turnout, while helping reach the 114 million Americans who were left behind in 2022.
Pride that no matter what else you have going on, you're doing something that's meaningful and impactful.
Peace of mind that you're fighting for a better future for yourself and your loved ones.
Satisfaction that just by being part of our community you're telling the GOP that you're on to them. You're not letting their corruption and lawlessness slide, and you won't let them sell out your democracy without a fight.
Gratification that you play a role in holding people in
Frequently Asked Questions
How does supporting Congressional Democratic nominees boost results statewide?
In 2020, we ran a study and found that having a Democratic nominee for state legislature on the ballot increased the vote share for the top of the ticket by 1.5% (our results were similar to those of others who have looked at the same question). We also know from a peer-reviewed study of 20 states that funding a challenger at $0.36 per eligible voter adds a whopping 1% boost to voter turnout!
So there’s a potential 2.5% bump for the top of the ticket if we run and support a Democratic nominee. Statewide, that leads to massive gains up and down the ticket! Bottom line: we can elect more Democrats. We just need to work together. Ready to get started? We’re glad to have you on board. Click here to join>>
Which nominees does Forgotten Democrats fund and how?
Forgotten Democrats uses a “bottom-up bathtub” method of funding to fund the nominees, where the community funds are used to lift the nominees from the bottom up. With one exception (discussed below), after the primary, we’ll look to the Democratic primary winners’ most recent campaign finance filings, and distribute community funds until the nominees all have at least $1,000. Then we’ll raise the “water level” to $2,000 … then $3,000 and so on and so on until the Forgotten Democrats community funds are exhausted. Only nominees (the Democratic primary winners) are eligible for funding. We do not fund candidates in the primary or make endorsements – this is a project to make sure Democrats have support to fight fiercely in the general election. While it is difficult for us to imagine a situation in which the primary voters would choose a nominee who our community would find legally or morally objectionable (i.e., a white supremacist), should a situation like that arise, we will rely on the local Democratic Party to disavow their nominee at which point we will discontinue funding.
The exception to our general approach are those districts that did not have a Democrat on the ballot in the prior election. 1% of the nominee portion of your donation goes to the Democrat running for office in each district that did not have a nominee the last cycle (if a Democrat does not run in that district, the money is distributed through our normal methods described above).
What are some of the "soft benefits" of running a supported Democratic nominee in every Congressional district?
Just by supporting the Democratic nominees that are running for Congress, Democrats can build a bigger bench, build up local Democratic infrastructure, make Republicans fight (and spend) everywhere, and spread a progressive message through a local lens.
If we’re serious about reaching voters across every corner of every state (and we are), then supporting the Democrats already doing the hard work is the most efficient and effective way to do it.
How much do most people contribute?
The average is just over $14/month. As an added bonus, everyone who contributes at $10/month is eligible to join our monthly team call, featuring David Pepper, Fred Wellman, Jessica Piper and Michele Hornish! They’re always informative and often entertaining – and a great time to ask any questions you have about politics.
What do I get for contributing?
Most importantly, you know that you’re part of the solution, and you’re doing something really powerful every single month. And – if you’re contributing at $10/month or above, you’re also added to our monthly Forgotten Democrats community call, where we get together with our Forgotten Democrats family to talk about recent events, progress, and all things political. It’s a great time to ask David Pepper (author and former Ohio Democratic party chair), and Michele Hornish (Every State Blue Executive Director) any questions about politics! All donors are added to our Forgotten Democrats Update email.
What percentage of my donation actually goes to the nominees?
Forgotten Democrats is a project of Every State Blue, through which you contribute to the nominees. Every State Blue does not take a single cent of your donation to the nominees. Instead, it relies upon tips revenue to grow this movement, so those tips are greatly appreciated! (Hint: Please leave one if you can!)
We’re also completely transparent about credit card processing fees. You may not realize it, but entities like ActBlue deduct credit card processing fees from your donation before sending it to candidates. So the candidate you’re supporting is getting less than you intended! Not with us – 100% of your donation goes exactly where you intended it to go. So if you want your donation to be $10/month, it is $10/month; the $0.57 in processing fees is added to your donation total for a monthly charge of $10.57. If you want your monthly charge to be a flat $10, no problem – just enter $9.44 into the donation field, and together with the processing fees that will all come out to $10/mo.
We also use a processor, Democracy Engine, LLC, that charges a lower percentage in processing fees. While ActBlue collects 3.95% and Kickstarter keeps 5% on top of processing fees, Democracy Engine collects a 3.75% + $0.30 processing fee.
Are you part of the Democratic party?
No. While we support the efforts of the collection of national, state, and local organizations that make up the Democratic Party, we do not coordinate with them. Our goal is to break radical Republican control, support and elect more Democrats, and preserve democracy.
Are you doing this kind of project in any states?
Yes! Every State Blue has active state legislative projects in Missouri, Ohio and Texas, and are hard at working bringing this project to other states that could use the same short-term electoral benefit and long-term investment. (The states on our short list of expansion projects include AZ, GA, MI, NC, PA, and WI. If you are interested in discussing any of those states, we’d love to hear from you. Just send an email to email@example.com.)
How does guaranteed funding help us run more nominees?
Fundraising is one of the toughest, and most detested, parts of running for office. It’s even worse for nominees who are in challenging, conservative districts. Eliminating the fundraising barrier means more people are willing to run, which makes recruitment much easier.
How can I help?
Glad you asked! First, you should join! (Do that HERE.) Second, we need people like you from all over the country to help spread the word. If everyone who asked this question could get five friends to join, we’d be well on our way to amassing the power that Forgotten Democrats need.
Also: if you would like us to speak to your local group or organization, just reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When will my subscription end?
Democracy is a long game, and we’re in this for the long haul. So unlike most Democratic organizations, we’re not focused on any one cycle. Your subscription will continue until you tell us to stop. Just contact us at email@example.com at any time. We’re very approachable!
How do I stop or change my recurring donation?
Easy! Just contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org at any time. We’re very approachable!
How do I contact you?
You can contact us at email@example.com at any time. We’d love to hear from you.