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Event aims to train activists, organizers for 2018 election
activist training
Carrie Anne, Anthony and Isobel Castillo protest repeal of the Affordable Care Act and immigration enforcement policies outside of Congressman Jeff Denhams Salida office in March. The Democratic Womens Club of Stanislaus is hosting a training fair for local residents like the Castillos and activist groups looking to elect a Democratic to the 10th Congressional District in 2018. - photo by Journal file photo

With the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee looking to unseat over 60 Republicans in the not-so-distant 2018 elections – seven of which are Californians – local organizations like the Democratic Women’s Club of Stanislaus County are focused on training volunteers to help flip districts from red to blue.

After Congressman Jeff Denham defeated challenger Michael Eggman last year despite extra funding received from the DCCC, the committee is refocusing their efforts on California’s District 10, naming Denham’s district as one of seven Republican-held areas in the state that they plan to target.

In preparation for the fast-approaching elections, the county’s DWC has invited attorney, activist and author Christine Pelosi, daughter of House of Representatives Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, to the area for a unique day of training and networking for activists and organizers from around the state working for progressive change within District 10.

The all-day session will provide coaching for volunteers on how to help the district go from Republican to Democratic Congressional leadership, and Pelosi, author of “Campaign Boot Camp 2.0,” will provide her popular “boot camp training” at the event. Training sessions on canvassing, tabling and visibility will be held, as well as a panel discussion with groups who specialize in campaigning.

“We’re excited to have Christine Pelosi, an inspiring speaker and Democratic National Committee member, sharing her knowledge and experience with volunteers,” said DWC of Stanislaus County founder and president Patty Hughes. “Christine’s leadership in Democratic campaigns in California and around the country is legendary, and we look forward to learning from her first hand winning campaign strategies.”

Various grassroots organizations and activist groups have worked in the past to elect progressive, Democratic candidates within District 10, campaigning last year to send Eggman to Congress instead of Denham and working to see Hillary Clinton elected as President. After the disappointments of the November 2016 election, the groups have been mobilized to work even harder, said Jennifer Dees of DWC, with new groups being formed in response to the Republican control of the White House, the Senate and Congress.

“This Training Fair is designed to bring all the interested groups and activists together so that we can coordinate our efforts working in District 10,” said Dees.

Dees said that these groups hope to enact progressive change throughout the Central Valley by electing a Democratic representative to Congress in the upcoming election.

“Progressive change will include electing a U.S. Representative who is responsive to his or her constituents,” said Dees, referring to many opposition groups’ claims that Denham has avoided his constituents and given evasive answers when confronted by those he represents. “District 10 constituents deserve better than that. They deserve a Representative who will truly represent them and make it easy, not hard, for constituents to interact with their member of Congress.”

District 10’s Democratic presence has grown in recent years, and in the November 2016 election, Presidential candidate Clinton won the area by a slim margin of three percent. Activists and protesters are making their presence known as well; more than 1,000 people attended the Women’s March in Modesto in January, and 400 people marched for taxes on April 15. On April 22, more than 300 attended the March for Science in Modesto.

“We are seeing tremendous support for better representation within the community,” said Dees. “Beyond marches, there is active voter registration going on in the district every week…the voters we talk to are enthusiastic about the outreach efforts.”

Along with the scheduled Training Fair, groups like DWC are working around the clock to ensure that the Democratic candidate challenging Denham in 2018 has a fighting chance, holding marches, voter registration booths and more.

“Public events such as the marches are great for our visibility and so that people who live in the district realize that there is opposition underway, that there are groups and organizers who care about their needs and are working for them,” said Dees. “We also hope to further build ongoing relationships in the community that will be essential when it’s time to canvass for candidates in 2018.”

It is vital for voters to get involved in the campaigning aspect of elections, added Dees.

“The vote is our most powerful tool for getting the representation we need at every level,” she said. “With greater Democratic representation in Congress overall, there will be more checks and balances in our government, rather than the skewed, one-party control there is now.”

The Activist Fair and Training Day for Volunteers, hosted by the Democratic Women’s Club of Stanislaus County, Organizing for California and CA Grassroots Action, will be held 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 29 at 4842 Nutcracker Lane in Modesto. For sponsorship opportunities or tickets to attend, visit