Like many others after the November 2016 election, Alicia Donahue said she “woke up” and decided she needed to get more involved in politics. “I realized that I could no longer sit on the sidelines. I’ve been an advocate for individuals with disabilities my entire career and realized that I needed to expand that scope.”
While many people have turned that election angst into political organizing, Donahue has taken the extra step of deciding to run for Congress. She has her eye on the seat currently occupied by Rep. Erik Paulsen (D-MN).
She says grassroots activists in the Indivisible CD3 group have been doing “an amazing job holding Rep. Erik Paulsen accountable and showing that he’s not the moderate that he says he is.” Specifically she points to Paulsen’s recent vote for the Republican authored American Health Care Act also called “Trumpcare” that would increase the number of people who are uninsured by 23 million by 2026 according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. She says Paulsen’s vote on that and other issues doesn’t represent the values of his constituents.
Donahue says she was inspired by the organizing work she did for the Women’s March in St. Paul that drew more about 100,000 people. She says the “momentum” of that event is one of the reasons she “decided I’m ready to take that fight to Washington.” If elected, Donahue would only be the fourth woman in history elected to the US House to represent Minnesota.
Turning momentum into votes
She will be seeking the Democratic Farmer Labor Party endorsement, which means she will be running against millionaire Dean Phillips who recently launched his campaign and drew a crowd of about 450 people to a recent town hall event. Donahue’s similar event drew about 75 people, but she wasn’t fazed by the lower turnout noting that she had fewer people attend her first organizing meeting for the Women’s march.
Like Phillips, Donahue knows she will need to reach out to pro-life voters to win the election. Like Phillips she is pro-choice and they both have a similar strategy. She praises the strong “convictions” that pro-life voters have, but says “we need to look at is their approach working and how can we work together towards a common goal, because I think we all want to decrease the rates of abortion.” She noted that the Women’s march in Minnesota encouraged people whether they were pro-choice or pro-life to be involved. “Women’s rights are human rights.”
At her forum people asked Donahue how she planned to raise the money to finance her campaign. Donhue said she planned to use grassroots organizing to get the community “invested” in politics again. She also said she would abide by the DFL endorsement.
Democrats have not won the third congressional district since 1958.