Organizing for Action, the group formed out of Barack Obama’s old campaign apparatus, is moving more directly into politics than ever before, deploying in 27 House races around the country this year.
Through an existing partnership with the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, OFA will also work in nine states to campaign for ballot initiatives and Democrats running for governor and state legislature positions. The group is pushing for greater Democratic control over gerrymandering ahead of the next Census.
OFA explicitly stayed away from campaigns in previous cycles. The group used to say that direct politics wasn’t its purpose. Instead, it focused on pressuring officials already in office.
Last year, for example, OFA was a key player in helping organize the town halls around the country that helped amp up opposition to repealing Obamacare.
But OFA spokesman Jesse Lehrich said the change was necessitated by an “all hands on deck” moment.
“OFA’s lifeblood has always been its incredible volunteer base,” Lehrich tweeted. “Their battle-tested organizing & training skills will be a huge value-add for progressives in critical races this November.”
He did not respond when asked to explain the shift to electoral politics.
The group in a statement argued it is “prioritizing 27 districts whose representatives have consistently advanced the interests of the wealthy and the well-connected at the expense of hard-working families. OFA volunteer teams will organize in each district to amplify support on the ground for candidates who will actually fight for their constituents.”
The full list of districts includes several where Donald Trump did better than Hillary Clinton. It does not include all the seats held by Republicans in districts where Clinton beat Trump, which Democrats tend to see as their best opportunities for pick-ups in November.
Here is the full list of districts OFA is targeting: