Democratic state legislators who don’t support California’s fracking ban, social housing push, or healthcare for all proposal, have officially been put on notice. Jackie Fielder is watching you.
The progressive activist is now working to direct the momentum from her own insurgent state Senate campaign to other candidates for statewide office.
On Wednesday night, Fielder and her former campaign director Róisín Isner announced the formation of Daybreak PAC, a political action committee that will support candidates who pledge to fight for the climate, affordable housing, and universal healthcare — and reject donations from billionaires and corporations. The group will be focused on winning seats in the state Senate and Assembly — where Democrats already hold a supermajority — and won’t be afraid to mount primary challenges against fellow Dems who run afoul of their litmus tests.
“For years, I’ve seen the Democratic supermajority fumble on delivering 40 million Californians basic rights to housing, health care, education, and more. And that work doesn’t stop just because one state Senate campaign falls short in a pandemic,” Fielder says. “So I knew that we needed to continue this movement and continue to lend our campaign energy and our base to push for all of the causes that our campaign stood for.”
Daybreak PAC will be specifically targeting four state Senate districts currently held by Democrats that will not have an incumbent running in 2022. But they’re also watching carefully to see how members of the legislature vote on key bills this year, especially AB 1400, which would guarantee all Californians access to healthcare; AB 387, which creates a new social housing agency; SB 467, which would gradually ban fracking across the state: and AB 20, which would limit corporate spending on elections.
Fielder has been in conversation with several potential candidates, although she declined to name any “to protect their process for deciding whether they’re going to run.” Daybreak PAC is looking for candidates “who have a demonstrated commitment to their community,” and are “in this for the broader movement,” Fielder says. To earn Daybreak’s support, candidates must pledge to support ending fossil fuel extraction, repealing the Costa Hawkins and Ellis acts that limit cities’ ability to implement rent control and tenant protections, single payer healthcare, and increasing funding for schools, affordable housing, decarceration, and alternatives to policing.
Joining forces with Daybreak PAC and leaving so much money on the table “isn’t an easy decision to make, especially for minority candidates who face barriers to running, who come from working class backgrounds,” Fielder says. “If a candidate is ambitious and smart, they can kind of justify it and say, well, I can accept this money and still make votes that are purely informed by my conscience. But I argue that that’s a slippery slope, and we need to break up with that model.”
Daybreak PAC will only support candidates who refuse to take donations from corporations, law enforcement unions, billionaires, real estate groups, and other special interests. And while it isn’t an easy path, serious campaigns have been mounted this way in the past. Look no further than Bernie Sanders, or Fielder herself, or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who prevailed in her grassroots campaign for Congress in New York City.
The 2022 elections remain a long way off, but in the meantime, Daybreak will phonebank and lobby on behalf of its core issues. It will also engage in “mutual aid,” Fielder says, calling up vulnerable people and helping them get vaccinated. And of course, they will continue fundraising. The PAC already has $6,500 in recurring monthly contributions, along with a sprinkle of one-time donations, with a goal of getting to $10,000 per month.
Fielder, for her part, wants to keep the public focused on progressive issues. “Just because we have a new president, just because the vaccine is emerging, that doesn’t mean that all of our problems have disappeared,” she says.