Union Veteran Takes Over Emily’s List as Abortion Fights Loom

Union Veteran Takes Over Emily’s List as Abortion Fights Loom

Emily’s List, the fundraising powerhouse that has helped elect hundreds of women who support abortion rights, has chosen Lafonza Butler, a former union leader in California and well-connected Democratic strategist, as its next president.

Ms Butler, 42, who grew up in southern Mississippi, will be the first woman of color – and the first mother – to head the organization, one of the most influential political action committees in the country.

She will handle Emily’s List at a particularly difficult time, with Democrats facing the twin challenges of a difficult midterm election and the most fundamental and pervasive threats to abortion rights since the Supreme Court ruled in 1973. In Roe v. Wade, the constitutional right to abortion was established. .

In an interview, Ms Butler said she believes the new abortion restrictions implemented in Texas and coming to other states will energize Democratic women, a wake-up for candidates supported by Emily’s List. Will provide both a call and a powerful line of attack.

“We think every Republican running for office needs to make voters aware of their intentions about where they stand on a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions and Roe v. Wade,” she said.

Ms. Butler is a seasoned organizer who has spent nearly two decades at the Service Employees International Union, eventually providing local leadership to its home care workers. In that role and as president of SEIU California, he pushed for policies such as raising the state minimum wage to $15 and raising income taxes for the wealthy.

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She went on to become a political advisor, and was a senior strategist for Vice President Kamala Harris’ presidential bid.

Emily’s List endorsement is one of the most sought after Democratic female candidates, providing a widely recognized seal to women whose votes, work organized and political contributions are increasingly important to the party as a whole. . The organization introduces candidates who support a vast network of donors and advises them on strategy, staffing, and fundraising. (Its name is an acronym for saying “early money is like yeast”.)

The group’s power multiplied during President Trump’s tenure, as a record number of women became political candidates. In the four months following the 2016 election, Emily’s List said it had been contacted by more than 10,000 women seeking to run for office—more than 10 times in the previous two years combined. The group says it has raised more than $700 million and helped elect more than 1,500 women to every level of government, including the vice president.

The group has set fire by favoring several deserving women candidates in primary competitions. And her decision to pull out of the Democratic presidential primary race — three days before she ended her bid to endorse Senator Elizabeth Warren — drew some criticism after all six women running for the nomination lost.

Opponents also say that Emily’s List requires that candidates demonstrate political viability – by showing that they can raise money, run a professional campaign and have a shot at winning a general election – shutting down women of color. who often face high barriers to fundraising. .

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Ms Butler said there was broad consensus within the organization that it should do more to support non-white candidates. She said she intends to expand partnerships with other groups to help recruit more diverse candidates and “speaks to some women who might not otherwise know that Emily’s List is a place they want to be in their own right.” Political house.

SEIU’s international president, Mary Kay Henry, said Ms Butler was well positioned to engage a more diverse class of female political leaders to “become leaders in need of working families”.

“He is very capable of using his personal story to build a relationship,” she said.

Ms. Butler, who has a 7-year-old daughter, was born in Magnolia, Miss., and grew up in a household that was supported by her mother, who worked as a security guard, gas station cashier, home-care worker. and worked as a teaching assistant, among other jobs.

“Emily’s List continues to give me the opportunity to work for women like my mother,” Ms Butler said in the interview. “Which daughter doesn’t want to continue her mother’s journey?”

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