Background of Special Elections

Summary of Special Elections

Special elections are elections held to replace vacant congressional seats. The dates and formats of elections vary from state to state and district to district. In 2017, there will be five special elections. Four are for congressional seats previously held by Republicans who were appointed to serve in the Trump administration. One is a seat previously held by a Democrat who resigned to become Attorney General of California. Historically, because they are not on regularly scheduled dates in November, special elections tend to have low turnout. That means a very motivated party can theoretically “flip” an otherwise uncompetitive district.

California 34
Date: April 4
Cook Political Report Rating: Safe Democrat
Democratic Candidate(s): Many
Notes: Incumbent resigned to become AG

Kansas 4
Date: April 11
Cook Political Report: Safe Republican
Democratic Candidate: James Thompson
Libertarian Candidate: Chris Rockhold
Republican Candidate: Ron Estes
To volunteer/donate Democrat:
To volunteer/donate Libertarian: ??
Notes: Democratic candidate feuding with state party over refusal to pay for mailers. Not a good sign.

Georgia 6
First Round Date: April 18
Second Round Date: June 20
Cook Political Report: Lean Republican
Democratic Candidate: Likely Jon Ossoff
Republican Candidate: Many
Libertarian Candidate: Chase Oliver
To volunteer/donate Democrat:
Notes: Clinton lost this district by 1 percentage point, so this is Dems’ top target. All candidates enter “jungle primary” regardless of party, top two face each other in runoff. Ossoff has raised millions, and has raked in high profile endorsements, but is still an underdog in a district that was once Newt Gingrich’s and Dems have not won since 1980.

Montana At-Large
Date: May 25
Cook Political Report: Likely Republican
Democratic Candidate: Rob Quist
Libertarian Candidate: Mark Wicks
Republican Candidate: Greg Gianforte
To volunteer/donate Democrat:
To volunteer/donate Libertarian
Notes: This is a whacky one. Montana has only one member of the House, because they have such a low population. Rob Quist is a famous local folk singer. He has no political experience beyond endorsing Bernie Sanders for President, but his music is great. Basically, the theme of his campaign is that he is a true Montana guy who grew up on a ranch. His opponent is a business person who is extremely conservative. He has already run for Governor once, and lost to a Democrat. For all Montana is a very red state, Dems actually control the Governor’s office and have a senator there. So Dems have an outside shot.

South Carolina 5
Date: June 20
Cook Political Report: Safe Republican
Democratic Candidate: Undecided
Republican Candidate: Undecided
Notes: Primary won’t be held until May 2. Dems controlled this district as recently as 2010, but it’s moved to the right a lot since then.

Meeting Notes – Whole Group Meeting March 19

Thanks to all who attended the meeting on Sunday, it was a great turnout with a lot of good discussions. Highlights of the meeting (and links to events) below.

  • Request for committees to create events that the committee agrees requires action by the whole group. Format for events should be: “We need X indivisibles to do Y on Z date”. Provide a link to a script, phone numbers, etc, as appropriate.
  • Recap of the Indivisible Guide, Indivisible umbrella groups and organizational structure, and the first Catonsville Indivisibles meeting that was held in February.

Committee Report-Back:

  • Environment – Evaluating issues of national and local interest including Chesapeake Bay funding, tracking local bills, sharing information with Sierra Club and Maryland Indivisibles; focusing on making things as action based as possible.
  • Health Care – Following the ACA repeal closely. The ACA vote will occur in the House this Thursday . On Monday (March 20) there will be a press conference in Annapolis to pressure Hogan to take a stance. Will have to see how things play out during the week and determine next course of action. Update on Maryland legislation for family planning services, passed the House on Thursday.
  • Education – Researching the committee and budget process regarding the BOOST Program for school vouchers, will get this information out to the whole group. Closely following Trump budget with regards to eduction. Oppose HB 610, Harris’ education bill, which repeals to Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 – show up at his town hall in Easton on March 31 to voice opposition.
  • Immigration – Rally on Sunday April 2, location TBD. Planning to conduct outreach to refugees through volunteering and donations. Support Maryland TRUST Act to resist ICE at state level. Outreach to local Islamic mosque that has needed 24 hour surveillance – possible open house.
  • Outreach – Working on definition of outreach as outreach could occur at different levels and with different audiences, e.g., religious groups, neighborhoods, students, political groups. Trying to find out how we can learn from and support these groups, focus on listening.
  • Communication/Events – Exploring what communication should look like and ways to help committees communicate, including through filtering information, using forms, and coming up with a process.
  • Logistics – Discussing logistics for upcoming meeting and events.

Swing Left – Guest Speaker, Melinda Frost

  • Melinda discussed the strategy for SwingLeft and Flippable, which is to take back the House in 2018 through grassroots efforts, including voter registration, phone banking, and house to house canvassing (partnering with KnockEveryDoor).
  • SwingLeft focuses on districts that can be swung (i.e., districts that were won by less that 15% of the vote in the last election).
  • The first two actions that will be undertaken are 1) voter registration and 2) canvassing houses to listen to people’s issues and concerns. Our closest swing districts are Pennsylvania-16 and Virginia-10.
  • A meeting to learn how to canvass is scheduled for April 1, location TBD.
  • SwingLeft is working on a mapping application to track where people have been to canvass and where they are scheduled to go so as not to duplicate efforts.
  • An “Electoral” committee will be formed within Catonsville Indivisibles to focus on voter registration, SwingLeft/Flippable, redistricting, etc.

Upcoming Events/Actions

  • Next Catonsville Indivisibles Steering Committee meeting (committee leads) is scheduled for Saturday, March 25 from 12-2 pm at Panera on Rt 40.
  • Voter registration – will look to schedule a training for registering voters in Maryland, training through the Board of Elections.
  • Phone bank for Jon Ossoff (Democratic front runner for Georgia-6 Special Election) – looking at dates and logistics for this.
  • ACA Rally – Thursday March 23 in DC before House vote to repeal/replace. Official rally begins at 1 pm in Freedom Plaza (14th and Pennsylvania). Indivisibles can meet at Union Station between 9 and 9:30 to march past Senate Buildings, Health and Human Services, down to meeting point. Email Susan Radke if interested:
  • Tax March in Baltimore and D.C. on April 15
  • March for Science in D.C. on April 22
  • Climate March in D.C. on April 29


Indivisible Guide:



Jon Ossoff Campaign:

March for Science:

Climate March:

Tax March DC:

Tax March Baltimore:

ACA Rally:

Introverts Guide to Resisting Trump

Anti-Social Guide to Resisting Trump

(AKA Trump Therapy for Introverts)

So you’re Anti-Social. You watch the dumpster fire that is President Trump everyday, but are too anxious to pick up the phone, and just thinking of a protest makes you want to curl up in fetal.  But there are solutions my friend.

Let’s be real here. Ideally everyone would be okay with all the socializing that’s required to organize at the grassroots.  But we all know that some of this just isn’t our jam. A 2-minute phone call drains us for the next hour. A 60-minute community meeting needs to be followed by a Netflix night. That’s just who we are.

But we also know that Trump is a real threat to our democracy. Everyone is being called to participate in saving America. All of us must make small and large sacrifices to make sure we don’t head towards disaster. And sometimes, us introverts will have to muster up the strength to make the call or gather our fellow introverts to go to a protest. That’s our civic duty. But there are also other ways to #resist that fit our personalities a little bit better.

This guide will cover 4 introvert-friendly resistance tactics. Commit to doing all 4 weekly:

  1. Faxing your Members of Congress (MoCs)
  2. Donating to Congressional Campaigns
  3. Emailing State Legislators
  4. Writing Thank you Letters

Why these actions? AKA Do they even work?

Faxing your MoCs

There’s some debate about the effectiveness of faxing your MoCs. Undoubtedly, phone calls are the best way to make your voice heard. It forces congressional staffers to stop what they’re doing, and respond to you.

However, congress’ technology is stuck in the mid 90s. Their phone systems were not built to keep up with the onslaught of calls since Trump’s victory, and these calls are often sent to full mailboxes. Letters aren’t instantaneous enough to keep up the Republican’s quickening legislative agenda. And emailing and tweeting your MoCs is simply too impersonal to make an impact.

Faxing, though often viewed as outdated, is the next best option. It’s quick. It’s personal. And it is an efficient way to verify you are a MoCs constituent. Sites like ResistBot are making this as simple as possible by turning your texts into faxes. And yup, it’s free.

Contributing to Political Campaigns

Listen Republicans are about to say a lot of dumb sh*t for the next 4 years. Like Jason Chaffetz telling the working poor to “give up their iPhones.” or Steven King speaking about “someone else’s babies.”  But in the words of my wise Facebook friend, “You can hate or you can donate.”

The silver lining of the Trump years is that there are new, bold voices getting involved in politics. The downside is that it is very expensive to run political campaign. The average cost of winning a seat is the Senate in 2012 was about $10.4 million! New political voices often either run out of funds or start to look to corporate donors to lighten the load. And it goes without saying, that corporate involvement in politics is a big no-no.

So it’s up to us to make sure these new voices can run competitive races. Sites like CrowdPac, Democracy for America, and Our Revolution are making it hella easy to do just that.

Emailing State Legislators

While emailing your MoCs is often ineffective, your state legislators are another story. Not burdened by a large number of constituents, emails are often read and sometimes even personally responded to by the Legislator.

Effecting change on the local level is often much easier than on the federal level. Local chapters of notable organizations are a great way to see your voice change society quickly. Sign up for email updates for the state level chapters of the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and Sierra Club.  These organizations  send email prompts to send directly to your legislator. Find the contact info for your legislator here.

Writing Thank You Letters

Writing Thank You letters is a way to retroactively applaud Congress and encourage similar behavior in the future. Thank you letters are not as time-sensitive as letters of concern, making them an effective to communicate your opinions.

And let’s be honest, Congress doesn’t get many Thank You’s, making each letter that much more memorable.

For your talkative days:

Suggested Weekly Agenda Example:

Agenda for Week of 3/19

Use ResistBot to fax your MoCs about ACA repeal:

Script: Save the ACA. Please vote ‘no’ on ACHA. [insert personal story and facts]

Donate to Kathryn Allen, democratic opponent of Jason Chaffetz.

Contribute to $3-5 to Kathryn’s campaign here. (of course if you feel moved, please donate more).

Check Email Alerts from state chapters of ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and Sierra Club

  • Find state chapters by googling “[NAME OF ORG] of [STATE]
    • For example, I am from Maryland. So I would google Planned Parenthood of Maryland
  • Sign up for email alerts for  local chapters of ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and Sierra Club
  • CHECK DAILY FOR NEW UPDATES. Email prompts will often be pre-made to be sent to your legislators when legislation is  threatening constitutional rights, reproductive freedom, and environmental justice. Stay woke!
  • Don’t always rely on these orgs to do the work for you. If you find out about a bill in your state that concerns you, contact your legislator yourself. Contact info can be found here.

Write Thank you Letters to your MoCs (and Republicans from other states)  who are speaking out against ACHA (Republican repeal bill)

*** SIDE NOTE***
Rewarding the little political courage left in the Republican party seems like a bizarre idea, I know. But strategically, thanking people on the other side of the isle sends a message about the strength and persistence of the opposition.

  • Find a Republican against ACHA here.
  • Look on your MoCs website, Facebook, or Twitter to see if they have publicly opposed ACHA. Thank them if they are openly against it. Fax them if not.

Other Helpful Introvert Activism Sites

5 ways to protest Trump, silently.

An Introvert’s Guide to Activism

Template For Submitting Items to NewsLetter

Template for Newsletter

When submitting items please use either format depending on the item. It is also OK to combine the two.

Item One: Getting Indivisibles to take an action

  • Committee Name:
  • Name of Action Item:
  • Who: All Indivisibles
  • What:
  • When:
  • How:
  • Learn more here:

Item Two: Providing Updates. Keep update items to about 3-5 sentences. Please make sure photos do not contain identifying information.

  • Committee Name:
  • Update Items:
  • Photos:
  • Learn more Here:

Indivisible Baltimore – Weekly Action 3/6


The Maryland Trust Act is important state legislation that would prevent all police in Maryland from assisting ICE in enforcing federal immigration laws, and would make Maryland a sanctuary state. It is sponsored by CASA, ACLU, and SEIU, and we strongly support this bill becoming law! Read more about the bill here:

Currently, the Trust Act is in the Judicial Proceedings Committee. We need you to call the committee main phone number and committee members saying that you strongly support the bill moving through committee and becoming law. If you are represented by any of these senators, please make that known. If not, that’s okay, you can still call and voice your opinion to them as committee members.

We were told by CASA that it is especially important to call Bobby Zirchin’s office because he is the committee chair, and because his District is in Baltimore County. Not sure what district you live in? Check out

The main phone numbers for the committee are (410) 841-3623, (301) 858-3623
1-800-492-7122, ext. 3623 (toll free).

Bobby Zirkin (D) committee chair, District 11 – (410) 841-3131, (301) 858-3131
Delores Kelley (D) committee vice chair, District 10 – (410) 841-3606, (301) 858-3606
James Brochin (D) – District 42 – (410) 841-3648, (301) 858-3648
Robert Cassilly (R) – District 34 – (410) 841-3158, (301) 858-3158
Michael Hough (R) – District 4 – (410) 841-3704, (301) 858-3704
Susan Lee (D) – District 16 – (410) 841-3124, (301) 858-3124
Anthony Muse (D) – District 26 – (410) 841-3092, (301) 858-3092
Wayne Norman (R) – District 35 – (410) 841-3603, (301) 858-3603
Victor Ramiez (D) – District 47 – (410) 841-3745, (301) 858-3745
Justin Ready (R) – District 5 – (410) 841-3683, (301) 858-3683
Will Smith (D) – District 20 – (410) 841-3634, (301) 858-3634

Catonsville Steering Committee Feb 26th Meeting Notes

Steering Committee Meeting Minutes-Catonsville Indivisibles (CI)
Sunday, 2/26 1-2:30 PM

General discussion about Issues Committees:
Each Issue committee will be responsible for keeping up to date with issues & bills
Each Issues committee should come up with a ½-sheet brief, concise statement regarding the most current issues to be communicated to the CI group (researching & tracking legislation regarding specific Issue). There was discussion about frequency of the updates. We talked about trying to update on a rotating schedule, maybe two Issues updates per week? This would serve more as briefing information. Separate discussion about Urgent Action Alerts followed later
Statements will be sent to Pat who will post them on FB, in the weekly newsletter, & on the website.
We talked about having individual “Issues” pages on the website.

Urgent Action Alerts-Issues Committees:
For time-sensitive or urgent action alerts, we discussed having each Issues committee be responsible for creating a FB Event, that is specific in what is needed (i.e. We need 10 people to attend such & such rally, or we need 20 people to call this MOC (member of Congress) and say such & such). Be very specific in what is needed & invite all the CI FB members.
Action alerts should also be communicated to Pat & he can put it the weekly newsletter.

Communications/Events Committee:
Pat suggested that this group could be responsible for creating resources regarding attending/creating Town Hall events (ie what to say, what to bring, what to wear). This could be a resource that could be kept on the website an/or a permanent FB post (ie file or document)
It was also suggested that this group could take the lead on establishing procedures & logistics for getting people down to some upcoming Marches in DC (i.e. meeting place, carpooling, etc)
Tax March-4/15
March for Science-4/22
People’s Climate March-4/29
National Pride March-6/11
This group could also come up with strategies for the Issues groups for how to tackle phone calls to MOCs, personal stories related to issues (ie help script a story if needed)
This group should be in contact with the Issues groups to be a resource
Communications/Events group can be responsible for:
Press releases
Letters to Editors
After-action reports
This committee can also work creating a graphic to represent CI (for stickers, signs, t-shirts, postcards, etc)

Outreach Committee:

There was some discussion regarding this group taking responsibility for partnering with a Swing Left group to support one of the congressional districts in a nearby state (PA or VA) through . There is also support that can be offered to outside state elections via . The discussion regarding the Outreach group heading this endeavor was tabled, however there is a Swing Left house party being hosted at the Catonsville Library on 3/4/17 @ 3:00. Linda Taylor plans to attend this meeting & will get some more information about how we could support this endeavor. [I’m thinking it could possibly be another committee within CI].
Suzanne shared that the Outreach committee was meeting later today. She shared that the group had thus far discussed two proposals regarding what they want to accomplish:
Model how to be inclusive
Meet with members of the community who have different views to engage in conversation
Pat asked Suzanne to find out what resources their committee needs from the group

Issues-Immigration Committee:
There was general discussion around resources related to Immigration issues including:
ICE Immigration Watch
CASA de Maryland-Bystander training
Here to Stay organization
International Rescue Committee
UMBC Progressive Club
Russian Cultural Group
There was discussion about Immigration committee pairing with Outreach committee to find groups to reach out to to include in CI that will improve our diversity

Current Action Proposed-Postcard Writing
In conjunction with Ides of Trump (3/15)
Postcard writing day: Saturday, 3/11—Pia & Linda will explore public businesses that may be able to host this (ie. Peace A Pizza; Rooster & Hen)–the idea is that people could stop in, socialize, patronize the business & write some postcards to be mailed by 3/15.
Pat will get generic postcards
Each Issues committee will come up with an idea of what to write & to whom related to their issues & send this information to Pat by 3/4/17 so that it can be communicated to the group.
Communications/Events group can be a resource for formatting scripts if needed.
Plan to advertise Event on FB by March 4th at the latest.

Next whole-group meeting is scheduled for Sunday, 3/19 @ 1:30 at the Arbutus Library. The room is already paid for by donations from the last meeting. Logistics will create an event for this meeting. Linda will publish on Indivisible Guide as well.

After 3/19 meeting, we will plan another Steering committee meeting.

Social Media Security

Below are some Catonsville Indivisible Tips when using Social Media

  1.  Most people use the same passwords for all of their accounts. Thus, if one is compromised all are. Instead use different passwords for each account. A password management tool like LastPass can help you manage all your passwords.
  2. Use passphrases for your social media accounts.  Instead of using something simple or easy like “Qwerty” or “Love12345” us passphrases. Passphrases are long strings of words and numbers. Typically,  they are built around an image. For example, your passphrase could be “AlaskawoodenJet45dinosaur”. Thus, when you think about your passphrase you picture the state of Alaska, with a wooden Jet flying over it and a dinosaur flying the plane wearing a number 45 jersey. Crazy I know, but you will remember that passphrase because you now have a mental image to associate it with.
  3. Use two-step (sometimes called 2- factor) authentication.  This security system involves connecting your phone to the account. Thus, in order to login there is a second step where you need to enter a special code. You can set-up 2-factor Authentication with the Electronic Frontier Foundation Facebook here and with Twitter here.
  4. It is OK to disagree with people or to disapprove with what institutions such as police or ICE are doing but speak positively on Social Media when you do. Remember, Social Media is devoid of context and anything you say or do could be the next viral post. Know, too, that there are conservative operatives who infiltrate groups and try to discredit them.  This Louisiana Indivisible Group found out the hard way. It’s an old play from the Nixon administration. Smiling and repeating phrases like:
    “Friendly, but misguided” or “Friendly, but unexposed”
     “No worries, we are a big country we aren’t always going to agree”
    “We just want to hold the institutions accountable to the people and the community”
    Are more helpful than shouting matches or perceived slights on institutions. Know too that conservatives think about things differently, particularly when it comes to things such as Respect, Loyalty, and Patriotism. This TED talk explains more.

Swing Left – It Starts with the House

At our next Catonsville Indivisibles meeting, we want to discuss medium and long term actions for resistance. One strategy has been proposed by Swing Left, which consists of steps to take back the House in 2018 by supporting progressives in “swing districts”.

If you haven’t already, please take a look at Some notes on this below:

  • A Swing District is a district that was won in the last election by 15% of the vote or less.
  • There are 52 Swing Districts.
  • We need to win 80% of all Swing Districts to take back the House. If we win all 17 Democratic held Swing Districts, we need to flip 24 of the remaining Republican ones.


The closest Swing District to us is Virginia 10. Virginia-10 basically extends from Fairfax and Prince William Counties westward to Frederick County, VA. The district is currently represented by Republican Barbara Comstock, elected in 2014. Prior to this, since 1980, the seat was held by Republican Frank Wolf (who did not run in 2014). In 2014, Comstock won by about 16% of the vote, and in 2016, she won by 6% of the vote. This district is considered up for grabs, because Obama won Virginia-10 in 2008 and Clinton in 2016 (although by a slim margin).


Some people have expressed interest in working to “swing” Maryland-1. Maryland-1 includes parts of Baltimore and Anne Arundel Counties as well as all Eastern Shore counties. Currently the district is represented by Republican Andy Harris; however, it was previously held by Democrat Frank Kratovil, Jr. who was defeated in 2010. Andy Harris was then re-elected in 2012, 2014, and 2016.

Maryland-1 is not shown as a “Swing District” by SwingLeft. This is because Harris won by much more than 15% of the vote in 2016. In 2010, Harris only won by about 12%, but in 2012, 2014, and 2016 he won by about 36 to 41% of the vote. So, whether or not this district can be “swung” is probably up for debate.

To help these efforts, you can:

  • Research a swing district – register as a researcher at
  • Start talking to voters in your swing districts – register at
  • Host/attend a Swingleft house party for more information.   Lucky for us, one has already been organized – see below & please join!!

Where: Catonsville Library

When: March 4, 3-5 pm

RSVP at or contact host Melinda Frost at:

Drinks provided, please consider bringing a snack to share.

Meeting Notes – February 19

It was a great meeting on Sunday!    Below are some notes from the meeting on Sunday, including those from the group and the Logistics Committee.

Notes from the meeting:

Suggested Short Term Actions:

  • Voter registration training upcoming on Feb 26, 3pm at Woodlawn Library (contact Cheryl Trivelli through Facebook page)
  • Scheduled calls and postcard sessions in a group to inspire people to action
  • Pre-prepared post cards at meetings, 3-5 topics
  • Assign subcommittees for issue topics/bills (suggested – Andy Harris 1965
    Education Rights Bill, GA 6 – Tom Price’s seat)
  • Outreach to other communities, faith groups
  • Attend other group’s meetings and report back (ideas, actions, events)
  • Get alerts when ICE is conducting raids, help vulnerable immigrants
    (Text “Here to Stay” to 877877 for ICE raid alerts)
  • Keep up with daily events (see for Baltimore protest calendar)
  • Have regular meetings
  • Communicate with the press

Notes from Logistics Committee:

  • Investigate best option for adding a matching calendar with events to both the website and Facebook page
  • Investigate different options for email, e.g. email access and different accounts/options for access by different committees
  • Assign admin access to others for the Facebook page
  • Pat will continue to monitor and respond to emails
  • Continue to send out newsletters twice a week, one for updates and one for actions
  • Solicit information from committees to help with the newsletter
  • Meetings with committee spokespeople every 2 weeks and one meeting with entire group per month
  • Next meeting will be scheduled for March 19 at Arbutus Library
  • Investigate options for future meetings, preferably with no fee