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Pioneer Valley liberal organizations unite to ‘Take Back the House’

  • The Capitol in Washington is seen early Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017. AP PHOTO/J. Scott Applewhite



For the Gazette
Friday, July 13, 2018

NORTHAMPTON — With the 2018 primary elections in full swing, a coalition of liberal organizations in the Pioneer Valley known as the “Take Back The House Campaign” will hold an event on July 19 to celebrate the official opening of a new headquarters at 18 Center St. in Northampton.

The event will be attended by U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Worcester, and Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz.

“Take Back The House” includes the Democratic committees of a number of communities in the Valley, including Amherst, Holyoke and Northampton, as well as groups such as Swing Left Pioneer Valley, Pioneer Valley Women’s March, the Sojourner Truth School for Social Change Leadership and more.

Elizabeth Silver is the chairwoman of the Northampton Democratic City Committee and one of the principal organizers of the “Take Back the House” initiative. As stated in the name, Silver said that goal of the organization is to flip the U.S. House of Representatives to Democratic control.

“We are concentrating on turning red to blue,” Silver said.

According to Silver, the organization is focusing on multiple races across the country which have a chance to be flipped. The organization enlists volunteers who work in phone banks calling voters, writing postcards and canvassing on the ground in places like New York’s 19th District, which lies right beyond Berkshire County, and New Hampshire 2nd District, which is on the border of Massachusetts.

Michael Dover, founder of Swing Left’s Pioneer Valley chapter, said the coalition chose to focus on winning the House because the path was easier than the Senate.

“It would be nice to take back the Senate, but the math is easier to take back the House,” Dover said.

The Democrats will need to flip 23 seats to win the House, out of the 435 that are up for re-election. To win the Senate, Democrats need to flip two seats, but of the 35 senators up for reelection in November, only nine are Republicans.

Silver said that “Take Back the House” has made “more than a thousand” phone calls and almost the same number of postcards campaigning for Democratic nominees since the coalition’s initial event in April.

At next week’s event, the coalition will reveal its new headquarters, which was financed by Northampton consultant Jack Hornor.

The new base marks what the organization calls “the next phase of the campaign,” which will see an increase in phone bank operations and canvassers who will travel to districts with competitive races.

According to Dover, the unveiling of the new headquarters will give people a chance to volunteer and show the work that “Take Back The House” is doing.

Both Dover and Silver believe that taking back at least one branch of government is critical in preserving the founding principles of the United States.

Dover said he thinks that the system of checks and balances has begun to erode in the Trump era.

“Very simple: There is no check on the Trump administration,” said Dover, who cited how Republicans currently control the Senate, the House, the presidency, and after the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, a more Trump-friendly Supreme Court. “There needs to be some sort of check on any president, and this is one way to do it,” Dover said.

Silver agreed.

“What is going on in and under this administration in reprehensible,” said Silver. “We need to take back at least one branch of the government.”