This year’s Illinois primary elections offered Black and Latinx voters a historic opportunity to decisively impact not only the trajectory of the Democratic party, but also the crucial outcomes of key races in November 2020. These national and local contests presented a pivotal juncture for voters of color. Our communities were asked to choose between candidates who would uphold the status quo of racialized injustice, and those who would chart a new course towards equity, opportunity, and liberation for all.
By leveraging the power of Black and Latinx electorates, a broad ecosystem of progressive grassroots organizations secured momentous wins in critical races at every level of government. These victories demonstrate the vital importance of investing in long-term organizing and power-building on the ground, which can be mobilized and activated in key election cycles. In the 2020 primary elections, Grassroots Illinois Action (GIA), United Working Families (UWF), and Center for Racial and Gender Equity (CRGE) turned these long-term organizing efforts into ambitious mobilization campaigns, reaching hundreds of thousands of local voters.
ABOUT OUR PARTNERSHIP
Grassroots Illinois Action (GIA), United Working Families (UWF), and Center for Racial and Gender Equity (CRGE) are all grassroots organizations led by people of color and working in communities of color throughout the state. We believe the pathway to liberation starts with building power in the most marginalized communities.
2020 PRIMARY ELECTIONS
Knocked on the doors of 193,605 local voters
Made contact with 102,836 area voters
Made 200,261 phone calls to local voters
Reached 661,745 voters with targeted digital ads
Held 45,154 conversations on phones and doors
Distributed campaign literature to 23,094 local voters
Sent 57,682 text messages to voters in the region
Reached a total of 787.675 local voters
2020 PRIMARY ELECTIONS
2020 PRIMARY ELECTIONS
REELECT STATE'S ATTORNEY KIM FOXX
A broad-based coalition that included CRGE, GIA, and UWF as well as many other local and national organizations came together to defend Foxx’s justice reform agenda in the face of white supremacist attacks from Wall Street.
In order to ensure a victory for State's Attorney Kim Foxx, our organizations mounted a far-reaching voter mobilization program. Our field campaigns, which included residential canvassing and phone banking, directly engaged tens of thousands of local residents and deployed 285 community volunteers.
Through our targeted texting campaign, our organizations sent tens of thousands of messages encouraging Black and Latinx voters to support Kim Foxx in the primary election. Additionally, digital relational organizing tactics allowed our members to disseminate campaign messages through their personal social networks.
Social Media Ads
In the weeks leading up to the primary election, our organizations launched extensive social media advertisement campaigns which targeted voters throughout Cook County. Through a series of video ads, we reached 661,745 local voters, with more than one million ad views.
In order to unify support behind Foxx, we worked with a broader ecosystem of movement organizations to help advance a narrative linking public safety with racial justice and liberation. To that end, we secured media coverage, ran opinion pieces, aired radio stories and interviews, and disseminated research reports.
ELECT LAKESIA COLLINS
UWF came in early and strong for health care worker and union leader Lakesia Collins, helping to build a volunteer-led field campaign that drove her to victory.
In order to mobilize grassroots support behind progressive newcomer Lakesia Collins, United Working Families carried out a comprehensive field program, engaging thousands of district voters through phone banking, canvassing, and volunteer recruitment.
UWF sent thousands of text messages to build a robust volunteer and GOTV operation for Collins. UWF also released a candidate slate video featuring Collins which reached more than 20,000 voters through digital relational organizing.
ELECT STATE SENATOR ROBERT PETERS
During his first session in the Illinois Senate, Peters championed justice reform, police accountability, and equitable economic opportunity.
In order to ensure a primary victory for Senator Peters, CRGE carried out a comprehensive field program, holding conversations with 3,278 Black voters in the district through phone banking and canvassing. CRGE also released a racial justice scorecard highlighting Peters' legislative achievements.
Leading up to the 2020 primary CRGE launched an extensive texting campaign encouraging thousands of district voters to turn out in support of Peters. CRGE also initiated a digital relational organizing program, which allowed our members to mobilize voters through their personal social networks.
MARIE NEWMAN FOR U.S. CONGRESS
As a candidate for Congress, Newman vowed to champion policies that foster economic security, equitable access to healthcare, and justice reform.
In order to ensure that progressive challenger Marie Newman edged out a conservative congressional incumbent in the primary, CRGE focused field efforts on mobilizing Black constituents. Through canvassing and phone banks, we held conversations with 2,396 Black voters in the district.
CRGE sent thousands of text messages encouraging district voters to support Newman in the primary election. We also launched a digital relational organizing initiative, which empowered our members to directly mobilize voters through their individual social networks.
BUILD BLACK AND LATINX SOLIDARITY
On the southwest, northwest, and west side of Chicago, UWF and GIA continued to invest in long-term organizing to combat anti-Black and anti-immigrant racism and forge greater solidarity between Black and Latinx voters.
UWF and GIA worked together to run the largest bilingual program in Cook County for Kim Foxx. This included canvassing, phonebanks, and volunteer recruitment on the northwest and southwest sides of Chicago. On the northwest side, including in the majority-Latinx 3rd House District, where GIA and UWF-endorsed candidate, teacher Nidia Carranza, was narrowly defeated by a machine-backed corporate lobbyist, GIA continued to build on years of local organizing, including combating anti-Black racism and securing some of Foxx’s best margins with Latinx voters. UWF members also organized bilingual canvasses for Lakesia Collins and sent thousands of bilingual Kim Foxx mailers to Latinx voters on the southwest side. This resulted in us winning 7 of the 10 majority-Latinx wards that we worked in this cycle, for Kim Foxx. This was after early polling showed Foxx losing the Latinx vote, and after Conway spent big on Spanish-language ad buys. Our field program was able to cut through the noise and misinformation to engage Latinx voters in thoughtful conversations about community priorities, combatting racism and real criminal justice reforms.
GIA sent 9,440 texts to Latinx voters to build support for Kim Foxx, while UWF got anti-Conway digital ads in front of hundreds of thousands of Latinx voters and released a slate video linking Black and Latinx progressive candidates together and encouraging our members to mobilize voters through their personal social networks.
In the months that lie ahead, our organizations will continue to leverage our primary victories towards advancing the movement for equity and liberation. This includes working closely with the Democratic nominees to advance a racial justice lens in issues such as criminal justice reform, COVID-19 relief efforts, and the 2020 general election.
The 2020 primary victories would not have been possible without sustained investment in people-of-color led, grassroots community organizations that have the membership base and experience needed to mobilize quickly at critical junctures such as elections. In addition to CRGE, GIA, and UWF, many other organizations and individuals made these 2020 racial justice victories possible.