Note: this story was published in the fall of 2018 in advance of the midterm elections.
The 32 Democratic candidates and one independent on this list had one thing in common: in 2018, they were all running in especially tight U.S. House, U.S. Senate and U.S. governorship races. Since their victories represented the best hope of pushing back on the Trump administration for the ensuing two years, we thought it’d be great if there was a quick, easy way for people to donate to all 33 of these campaigns at once, but no such tool existed.
The good folks at Act Blue said that if we provided them with a list, they could customize one of their tools to do what we wanted. So, we did and the official #GrabYourBallot page was hosted on the Act Blue platform. It could take a donation as small as a dollar and automatically divvy it up between all 33 of these candidates in key races.*
In the end, we raised a total of $209,689 for the 33 #GrabYourBallot candidates or $6,354 each. We were delighted that more than half —54% (18 out of 33) won their elections. This Medium post was designed simply to give potential donors some additional information about each candidate. At the bottom, we further defined what we meant by “key races.”
Tight Races for the U.S. House
- Alyse Galvin — Lost.(AK-AL). This race was initially favored to go to Alaska’s Republican incumbent, but officially became neck-in-neck during the first week of October. Alyse Galvin is running as an independent and due to Alaska’s unusual election laws was able to win the Democratic party’s nomination. Her platform focuses on affordable healthcare, strong education, and economic development. Her opponent, Republican Don Young, has been Alaska’s sole representative since 1973. Alaska went to Trump in the 2016 presidential election but narrowly. Could Galvin unseat this longtime incumbent ? Her supporters say she’s “galvinizing” Alaska. Donate to Alyse Galvin via #GrabYourBallot or individually here.
- Josh Harder — Lost.(CA-10). Harder is in one of California’s hardest-fought races against Republican Jeff Denham in the northern San Joaquin Valley area of California and with the challenger bringing a statistical dead heat to his incumbent opponent, several reputable polls have declined to predict a winner in this race. Harder is a moderate with a background in venture capitalism. He’s running on a platform of affordable healthcare, humane immigration reform, and more jobs for the Central Valley region. He’s endorsed by the Sacramento Bee and former President Barack Obama. His incumbent opponent is a strong Trump ally. Donate to Josh Harder via #GrabYourBallot or individually here.
- Andrew Janz — Lost. (CA-22). Running against incumbent Devin Nunes in the Fresno area of California, Janz is the son of immigrants and a prosecutor with the local District Attorney’s Office. He’s running on a platform of bringing cleaner, more secure water delivery systems to his largely rural district as well as jobs. His opponent has not held a public forum in years and not only lost the endorsement of his own hometown newspaper for the first time in 16 years, but Esquire recently reported Nunes has been lying for decades about the location of his family’s dairy farm, which is not — as he has claimed — in California, but Iowa. Donate to Andrew Janz via #GrabYourBallot or individually here.
- Katie Hill — Won!(CA-25). In one of the country’s most anticipated midterm races, Katie Hill is running against Republican Steve Knight. Thirty year old Hill has a public service background and managed to beat the better-known Democrat in the primary. Her opponent for the main event has voted with Trump and has been called “the most vulnerable Republican in California.” Although California’s 25th District has historically been a pocket of conservatism in LA County, demographics have changed and Hillary Clinton strongly carried it in the 2016 election. Hill is endorsed by former President Barack Obama and actress Kristen Bell. Donate to Katie Hill via #GrabYourBallot or individually here.
- Gil Cisneros — Lost. (CA-39). Cisneros is running against Young Kim in a closely watched race to replace incumbent Republican Ed Royce. Kim was an aide to Royce and opposes sanctuary cities. Cisneros is a Navy veteran and a former Frito-Lay shipping manager who supports immigration reform, gun control, environmental protection, and affordable healthcare. Donate to Gil Cisneros via #GrabYourBallot or individually here.
- Katie Porter — Won! (CA-45). Porter is a UC Irvine law professor and consumer protection attorney. One of her big issues is affordable health care and she also helped keep Orange County residents in their homes during the subprime mortgage crisis. She’s endorsed by Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and former President Barack Obama. Porter is running against incumbent Republican Mimi Walters who has voted in lockstep with the Trump agenda. Donate to Katie Porter via #GrabYourBallot or individually here.
- Harley Rouda — Won! (CA-48). Rouda is a challenger who kicked off his campaign in a dead heat with incumbent Republican Dana Rohrabacher thanks to a new enthusiasm for Democrats in Orange County. He’s a businessman running to reduce health care costs, fix infrastructure, and make college more affordable. He’s endorsed by former President Barack Obama. Donate to Harley Rouda via #GrabYourBallot or individually here.
- Donna Shalala — Won! (FL-27). Shalala is the longest serving Secretary of Health and Human Services in U.S. history and also served as the president of the University of Miami. Throughout her career she’s advocated for women’s rights, civil rights, increased access to health care, better education and strong environmental protections. She’s running against Republican Maria Elvira Salazar, a former TV news reporter. Donate to Donna Shalala via #GrabYourBallot or individually here.
- Cindy Axne — Won! (IA-3). Axne is challenging incumbent Republican David Young for Iowa’s third district seat. Axne is a small business owner who has her MBA from Northwestern and a background in civil service and activism. She’s worked to protect educational programs in Iowa as well as its state parks. She’s endorsed by former President Barack Obama. Donate to Cindy Axne via #GrabYourBallot or individually here.
- Sean Casten — Won! (IL-6). Casten is in a hotly contested race against Republican incumbent Peter Roskam. Casten is a scientist, clean energy entrepreneur, and advocate of evidence-based policy who is endorsed by former President Barack Obama.His opponent has repeatedly voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act and is generally in legislative lockstep with Trump. Donate to Sean Casten via #GrabYourBallot or individually here.
- Brendan Kelly — Lost. (IL-12). In a true toss up race for Illinois’ 12th district, Democrat challenger Brendan Kelly is up against Republican Michael Bost. Kelly is the state’s attorney for St. Clair County, a lawyer, and former naval officer. His opponent is a businessman who opposes the Affordable Care Act. Donate to Brendan Kelly via #GrabYourBallot or individually here.
- Sharice Davids — Won! (KS-3). Davids has a law degree, served as a White House fellow, and is the daughter of a single mom Army vet. Her priorities are affordable healthcare, accessible education, and common sense gun laws. Her incumbent opponent Kevin Yoder is in a tenuous position given Hillary Clinton won this district. If elected, Davids could be one of the first Native American women in Congress (New Mexico’s Deb Haaland could also be elected in November) and she would be the first lesbian congresswoman from Kansas. Davids is endorsed by former President Barack Obama. Donate to Sharice Davids via #GrabYourBallot or individually here.
- Elissa Slotkin — Won! (MI-8). Described as the most “compelling campaign in Michigan this fall,” Democratic challenger Elissa Slotkin is going up against a longtime Republican incumbent Mike Bishop in a race that has them neck-in-neck. Trump won this district in 2016 but only by 7 points and Slotkin has narrowed the race to a toss-up by running as a centrist, attracting national media buzz and raising more money than Bishop. Donate to Elissa Slotkin via #GrabYourBallot or individually here.
- Andy Kim — Won! (NJ-3). Challenger Democrat Andy Kim is up against Republican incumbent Tom MacArthur in New Jersey’s third district. Kim’s opponent was initially leading by a narrow margin, but now it’s looking really good for Kim, who is running on a platform of campaign finance reform, lowering healthcare costs, and closing the income gap. Donate to Andy Kim via #GrabYourBallot or individually here.
- Antonio Delgado — Won! (NY-19). Attorney Antonio Delgado is running against incumbent Republican John Faso and the race is considered one of the most closely watched in the nation. Born in Schenectady, Delgado’s parents worked for General Electric. He got a Rhodes Scholarship, attended Harvard Law School, and eventually landed a position at an influential law firm. Delgado is the first Hispanic major party nominee running to represent the region. He is also the first biracial major party nominee. One of his core issues is to help families in the area achieve the American dream. His opponent opposes the Affordable Care Act. Donate to Antonio Delgado via #GrabYourBallot or individually here.
Tight Races for the U.S. Senate
- Kyrsten Sinema—Won! (AZ). The race for retiring Arizona Republican Jeff Flake’s U.S. Senate seat has been described as a “muddled battleground.” Democrat Sinema, a state legislator, is running against Martha McSally. Sinema, who has amassed a center-left voting record during her time in the legislature, has worked for the adoption of the DREAM Act and campaigned against two state bills banning the recognition of same-sex marriage. She was the first openly bisexual person elected to the U.S. Congress. She’s endorsed by former President Barack Obama. Donate to Krysten Sinema via #GrabYourBallot or individually here.
- Bill Nelson—Lost, After a Recount. (FL). Running against well known Republican challenger Governor Rick Scott, incumbent Senator Bill Nelson has a narrow lead in the polls. His legislative priorities are healthcare, education, economic opportunity, and the environment. He’s endorsed by former President Barack Obama. His opponent Scott has been attempting to put distance between himself and the president, as Trump’s mishandling of Hurricane Maria and its victims has not gone over well in Florida. Donate to Bill Nelson via #GrabYourBallot or individually here.
- Joe Donnelly — Lost.(IN). Attorney Joe Donnelly is an incumbent U.S. Senator from Indiana running against Republican Mike Braun. Donnelly’s platform emphasizes healthcare, especially prohibiting insurers from denying coverage or dramatically raising premiums for people with pre-existing conditions. His opponent has worked to continue defining marriage as a union “between a man and a woman” within his party’s state platform. Donate to Joe Donnelly via #GrabYourBallot or individually here.
- Claire McCaskill — Lost (MO). Incumbent Senator Claire McCaskill is running against Republican challenger Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley. Trump won Missouri by double digits and Hawley has aligned himself tightly with Trump, but two-term incumbent McCaskill leads in the polls by a narrow margin. She’s endorsed by former President Barack Obama. Donate to Claire McCaskill via #GrabYourBallot or individually here.
- Jon Tester—Won! (MT). Democrat Tester is currently polling just ahead of his Republican opponent Matt Rosendale. Tester is an incumbent who has been in office since 2007. In 2006 he beat a Republican incumbent in one of the closest Senate races that year. In mid-September, the Daily Beast published an audio recording that revealed that Tester’s opponent had engaged in potentially illegal coordination with the NRA. Donate to Jon Tester via #GrabYourBallot or individually here.
- Heidi Heitkamp—Lost.(ND). One of the more recent additions to the #GrabYourBallot list, incumbent Senator Heidi Heitkamp is running a tight race against Republican challenger Kevin Cramer, who recently called the Me Too movement “a move toward victimization.” Heitkamp had been somewhat behind Cramer in the polls, but more recent numbers show that the gap has narrowed to single digits. Donate to Heidi Heitkamp via #GrabYourBallot or individually here.
- Jacky Rosen — Won! (NV). Nevada is widely seen as the Democrats’ best Senate pickup opportunity and Democratic challenger Jacky Rosen, a first-term congresswoman, has a narrow edge over incumbent Republican Dean Heller. Her platform focuses on education, healthcare access, immigration reform, and common-sense gun safety laws. Rosen has served as U.S. Representative from Nevada’s 3rd congressional district and was rated one of the House’s most bipartisan members. Prior to that she was a computer programmer and was the first in her family to go to college. She’s endorsed by former President Barack Obama. Donate to Jacky Rosen via #GrabYourBallot or individually here.
- Beto O’Rourke—Lost. (TX). Maintaining only the thinnest of leads at present, Republican Ted Cruz is facing an especially tight race against the articulate, charismatic Democrat Beto O’Rourke, who is drawing comparisons to Robert Kennedy and whose campaign has a lot of grassroots energy behind it. O’Rourke is a politician and businessman serving as the U.S. Representative for Texas’s 16th congressional district. Cruz is the incumbent senator who endorsed Trump despite the fact that Trump insulted his wife’s appearance and suggested that his father was involved in JFK’s assassination. Donate to Beto O’Rourke via #GrabYourBallot or individually here.
Tight Gubernatorial Races
- Andrew Gillum—Lost, After a Recount. (FL). Polls show that 39 year old Democrat Andrew Gillum has a narrow lead over Republican Ron DeSantis. A buzzy candidate, Gillum has served as the mayor of Tallahassee since 2014 and is endorsed by former President Barack Obama. If he wins, he’d be Florida’s first black governor. Gillum’s opponent styles himself as one of the strongest Trump allies in the U.S. Donate to Andrew Gillum via #GrabYourBallot or donate individually here.
- Stacey Abrams—Lost. (GA) In a historic U.S. race and a defining moment for a Southern state, Stacey Abrams is running a neck-in-neck race for Governor of Georgia against Republican Casey Cagle. If Abrams is able to beat Cagle, she’ll be the first black woman in U.S. history to be a governor. Abrams is a Yale-educated lawyer who served as the minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives for six years. She’s known for her ability to reach across the aisle. Former President Barack Obama has endorsed. Donate to Stacey Abrams via #GrabYourBallot or individually here.
- Fred Hubbell—Lost. (IA). Democrat Fred Hubbell has a narrow lead in the polls over his Republican opponent Kim Reynolds. Hubbell is a businessman and politician who is endorsed by former President Barack Obama. Reynolds aligns herself with Trump and has banned the news media from “public” events on important legislative issues such as trade tariffs. Donate to Fred Hubbell via #GrabYourBallot or individually here.
- Paulette Jordan—Lost. (ID). Recent polls show progressive Democrat Paulette Jordan narrowing the gap with her Republican opponent. Jordan is a young tribal leader, a two-term state representative, and single mother of two sons. She previously served on the Coeur d’Alene Tribal Council and is the descendant of famed Chief Kamiakin of the Palouse and Chief Moses of the Columbia. Her opponent Lieutenant Governor Brad Little is a ranching heir and the son of a senator. Donate to Paulette Jordan via #GrabYourBallot or individually here.
- Laura Kelly—Won! (KS). Kansas voters remain sharply divided over who should be their next governor, with polls showing Democrat Laura Kelly locked in a close race with exceptionally Trumpian Republican Kris Kobach who directly helped to shape Donald Trump’s immigration views. As a candidate, Kelly was recruited her friend and next-door neighbor Kathleen Sebelius, the former governor of Kansas. She’s a member of the Kansas Senate and is currently the Senate Assistant Minority Leader. Donate to Laura Kelly via #GrabYourBallot or individually here.
- Janet Mills — Won!(ME). Polls show Democrat Janet Mills is locked in a dead heat with Republican Shawn Moody in the Maine governor’s election. Moody is a businessman who likens himself to Trump while Janet Mills is a lawyer and politician currently serving as the Attorney General of Maine. Donate to Janet Mills via #GrabYourBallot or individually here.
- Steve Sisolak—Won! (NV). Sisolak has a narrow but growing lead over his Republican opponent Adam Laxalt. A businessman, Sisolak was born into a working-class family and his platform centers around education, job creation, and affordable healthcare. He’s endorsed by former President Barack Obama. His Republican opponent has been endorsed by Trump and was once arrested for assaulting a police officer. Donate to Steve Sisolak via #GrabYourBallot or individually here.
- Richard Cordray—Lost. (OH). In the Ohio gubernatorial race, Cordray currently enjoys a narrow lead over his Republican opponent Mike DeWine. Cordray is a lawyer and politician who served as the first Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He’s endorsed by former President Barack Obama. His opponent endorsed Trump and has joined him at campaign rallies. Donate to Richard Cordray via #GrabYourBallot or individually here.
- Kate Brown — Won!(OR). Brown is the 38th Governor of Oregon and while some polls have shown her with a lead, others show her in a dead heat with her opponent, Knute Buehle. Brown is an attorney who previously served as Oregon Secretary of State and majority leader in the state senate. She’s endorsed by former President Barack Obama. Her opponent supports an initiative to abolish the state’s sanctuary city law for immigrants. Donate to Kate Brown via #GrabYourBallot or individually here.
- Gina Raimondo — Won! (RI). Democratic gubernatorial incumbent Gina Raimondo is running against Republican Allan Fung. Raimondo won her primary by a landslide but this is her second time running against Fung and polls show a tighter race in November this time around. Donate to Gina Raimondo via #GrabYourBallot or individually here.
By “key races” we mean tossup races where Democratic candidates currently have a sporting chance of winning. In researching whether or not such a list already existed, we learned some lists were indeed already out there, but none covered all three high office categories: U.S. House, U.S. Senate, and governorships. Some lists also included Democratic candidates who either already had such a huge lead or deep lag that additional funding wasn’t likely to make much of difference. We wanted our list to focus exclusively on tossup races where donations could have a lot of impact.
A Running Record of Changes to this List:
10.6.18. On October 6, Phil Bredesen (TN) was removed from the #GrabYourBallot list due to his commitment to vote yes on confirming Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. He’s running against Republican Marsha Blackburn, a staunch Trump supporter who is currently the U.S. Representative for Tennessee’s 7th congressional district. If you’d still like to donate to Bredesen, you can do so individually here.
10.6.18. On October 6, five candidates were added to the #GrabYourBallot list: Andrew Janz, Antonio Delgado, Gina Raimondo, Elissa Slotkin, and Andy Kim. See above for detailed descriptions of these candidates.
10.8.18 Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota added to the #GrabYourBallot list as recent polling numbers show the gap between her and her Republican opponent has narrowed to the single digits.
10.9.18 Alyse Galvin of Alaska added to the #GrabYourBallot list as recent polling numbers show a dead heat between her and her incumbent Republican opponent.