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A political action committee hatched last year and which Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau now stands by will hold its first event of 2016 on Saturday, at Local 16 on U Street NW. It hopes to promote D.C. autonomy by targeting meddlesome Congresspeople as well as through efforts to achieve statehood.
Not Your District PAC raised roughly $3,500 in 2015, founder Justin Robinson says, with the “vast majority” of funds coming from small donations ($5 to $20). In 2016, though, it’s aiming for $100,000 to $250,000 in the first quarter alone: an ambitious goal, Robinson admits, but one it hopes to achieve through bigger connections and greater awareness. Nadeau, who just finished her first year in office, is the inaugural member of a recently created NYD “advisory committee.”
“The idea is to bring in some key players who could provide fundraising, messaging, and strategy,” Robinson explains. “I had a really great core group of volunteers last year, but we needed more. That’s what this weekend’s fundraiser is about: getting the cash we need to do voter polling, focusing on nuts-and-bolts things going forward.”
The founder adds that statehood is the group’s “ultimate goal,” but it’s more focused on a “solid double” instead of a “home run” in the months ahead. That means identifying one or two Congressional contests this election cycle in which the group’s influence could help unseat “someone who’s interfered with D.C.’s interest.” Robinson says NYD has a “short list” of contests right now, and is “in talks with” some well-positioned business and political leaders.
“As much as we have feelings towards [Maryland incumbent] Andy Harris, we can only do what our resources allow,” he adds, referring to the Congressman who’s previously interfered in D.C.’s affairs (while legal marijuana was being debated), and who now has two challengers in a 2016 election. “The goal is to have a tangible impact.”
Still, Robinson says NYD welcomes donations from local residents and small businesses to build a “groundswell of support.” As for polling, the group plans to focus on districts more conservative than D.C., finding issues that may resonate with voters (such as reproductive rights and personal freedoms) rather than harping on statehood itself.
“The goal is [electoral] victory, not necessarily convincing [regional voters] of the merits of statehood,” he explains. “It’s about getting outside the District, getting out of our bubble a little bit.”
NYD’s fundraising event will take place from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Photo by Sarah Anne Hughes