Ever since the election sent Republicans to power in Washington, and back to power in the N.C. General Assembly, state Sen. Jeff Jackson has heard the same thing from despairing Democrats.
“I get asked every single day, ‘What can I do?’,” he said Wednesday. “And I really didn’t have a great answer for them.”
Now the Charlotte Democrat thinks he does.
He calls it “2017 Gameplan North Carolina.”
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Launched Tuesday on social media, “Gameplan” aims to transform Democrats’ despair into action by encouraging them to take advantage of what could be an unusual opportunity to break the GOP’s grip on the N.C. legislature.
That’s because a 2016 court ruling found existing legislative districts unconstitutional and ordered new districts – and new elections – in 2017. That ruling is currently under appeal.
Jackson’s effort is similar to others, including the state Democratic Party’s “Pipeline Project” and Rep. Graig Meyer’s “Our Shot,” a Facebook Live series.
Like those, Jackson’s project is designed to motivate voters and recruit candidates for what could be more competitive legislative races. The project also illustrates the power of social media.
In the 24 hours since posting “Gameplan” on Tuesday, Jackson said he’s had 20,000 page views with more than 5,000 people signing up to volunteer or run.
“That was just the first day,” he said.
Jackson, 34, is in his second term. He was chosen by Democratic officials in 2014 to replace Sen. Dan Clodfelter, who was chosen as mayor after the resignation of Patrick Cannon. Last year Jackson was a local surrogate for Democrat Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
This is not the first time Jackson has used social media. In 2015, he was the only lawmaker around on the day the General Assembly had a snow day. He took advantage by sending out a flurry of tweets in which he “passed” imaginary legislation. The tweets drew national attention.
He’s convinced social media is the best way to reach a new generation of voters.
“That’s what people my age are looking for,” said Jackson. “They want to be politically involved but they’re not going to go to their local precinct meeting. There needs to be an alternative.”