'Liberal Women of Chesterfield County' works to change politics
CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - As the 2018 midterm elections gets closer, political experts say there is a growing grass-roots activists group to keep your eye on: The Liberal Women of Chesterfield County, which formed after the 2016 presidential election.
Kim Drew-Wright, a self described "soccer mom," who lives in Chesterfield put out a call on Facebook and word quickly spread.
"I would say that the 2016 presidential election absolutely was a catalyst for my calling out to progressive like-minded people so that we could come together and feel like we were not alone," Drew-Wright said. "I thought it would be a small group of women who would sit around the table and kind of commiserate over politics."
That idea quickly changed. Now there are more than 3,000 members.
"The membership request just kept flooding in," Drew-Wright said. "At our first meeting in November of 2016, we have people who drove an hour away to get to that meeting. There was a real need for us to come together."
Members of the group volunteer, knock on doors, hand out flyers, register voters and campaign for progressive candidates.
"I think part of our success is the way we're organized and structured," Drew-Wright said. "It's not just one group, it's over 50 sub-groups. We have neighborhood groups all around the county and surrounding counties. We have advocacy groups. What happens is it multiplies everything, so it multiplies the number of leaders we have, the number of projects, the number of opportunities for volunteering in the community."
The organization's volunteering and advocacy efforts appear to be paying off for the Democrats.
In the last election season, candidates backed by this organization have either come close to beating or have beaten their Republican opponents in areas that have voted conservative for decades.
"Last year, Dawn Adams won and she's actually my delegate," Drew-Wright said. "Larry Barnett came very close to beating Roxann Robinson by 128 votes, I think."
Adams was the first openly gay woman elected to the House of Delegates.
Their activism also played a part in Gov. Ralph Northam winning Chesterfield during the gubernatorial race, the first democrat to do so since 1961.
"I think our organization is an example of what is happening all around the country," Drew-Wright said. "I think especially for women, it's the time when we feel we need to stand up and educate ourselves and be a part of our representation."
Drew-Wright believes they are succeeding by entering territories where former Democrats may not have campaigned because they believed it was an area that was most likely to vote Republican.
"They [Democrats] don't want to waste time and money in a place where they don't think they can win and the problem with that is if you never go into a place and try to win, you're never going to win," Drew-Wright said. "You're never going to make in-roads into those areas."
NBC12 political analyst, Ravi Perry agrees. He said the group is having an impact and likely won't go away.
"In the terms of the organizations, local grass[roots] groups that are focusing on women in politics and getting women involved in politics are getting more women to register to vote, getting more women to run for office," Perry said. "That is not going to go away, and Virginia better get on the train or get left behind."
Perry said Liberal Women of Chesterfield County is analogous to the Tea Party, but only when it comes to how both organizations began.
"The Tea Party is a far right element of the conservative party that does much of its work in a formal setting in congress," Perry said. "It began that way [grassroots style,] but not much any more. [Liberal Women Of Chesterfield County] really is centrally a grassroots effort that began by women who are residents of Chesterfield County, many of them for generations."
Drew-Wright said the group is currently working to make waves in the upcoming congressional races. In 2019, their plan is to get more progressives into the The Virginia House and Senate, Board of Supervisors and School Board.
The Republican National Committee said the group exists to resist all Republican efforts because of Donald Trump's presidency.
"Democrats still haven't come to terms with the fact that President Trump won in 2016," the RNC statement said. "Republicans continue to cut taxes, roll back burdensome regulations and confirm judicial nominees who will follow the Constitution. The name of the group may change - Liberal Women of Chesterfield County, Indivisible, or just plain old Democrats - but the mission doesn't: resist at all costs. But while they resist, Republicans deliver results."
The Republican Party of Chesterfield County has not yet responded to a request for comment.
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