2023 is not an election year. Except for a few localized campaigns around the country, most of us will skip the fast-paced deadlines and the thrilling highs of an election season. For grassroots organizations like us, this is instead a good time to reflect on our past accomplishments and to predict where our next big battle will be.
For National Police Support Fund, one of the game changers last season was our Get Out the Vote (GOTV) campaign for Virginia’s gubernatorial election. Virginia’s Law Enforcement needed us. Was it scary? Yes. But did we help our people? Yes – and we will continue to do so.
Why Virginia Needed Us
The years before the 2022 midterm election were rocky for Virginia as a whole. Unfortunately, many of its top politicians were quick to use law enforcement, and especially police officers, as an “easy sacrifice” to score political points.
Anti-police initiatives reached their highest peak during Terry McAuliffe’s tenure as Governor. Following a series of budget cuts, police departments struggle to carry out their mandates. As a result, the state’s murder rate jumped by 43% in less than five years.
For many families around the State, fear was an unacceptable way of life. In 2022, pro-police incumbent Glenn Youngkin was looking at a tight race against McAuliffe. The narrow margins predicted by the polls meant that turnout could make a huge difference.
A bigger challenge required new alliances. This is why we joined forces with United Police Fund and launched an all-out campaign to mobilize voters.
We focused our efforts on two congressional Districts (District 02, around Norfolk and Virginia Beach) and District 7 (between Richmond and Alexandria). We decided to speak candidly and directly with any voter in the area who felt the police were being left to “take the fall” for political mistakes, as well as anyone who had felt the threat of rising crime rates.
Our campaign began with a simple video ad that was also shown on social media. Soon after, we added billboard messages in strategic locations. For our “final push”, one week before the election, we also used phone calls and SMS text messages to reach key voters.
Our Impact on the Results
The most important aspect of our campaign is that we won. Glenn Youngkin was re-elected as governor of Virginia. He was particularly successful in the two districts where our campaign was at its strongest.
Ultimately, we managed to help get 13,000 citizens to vote, either on or before Election Day.
What Youngkin’s Triumph Means for Police around the Country
So what’s behind a governor’s seat? Will it really impact the lives and safety of police officers in Virginia?
The simple answer is yes – and we expect the effects of this election will ripple around the country ahead of the 2024’s presidential election.
The most important consequence of our campaign is that we bought Glenn Youngkin more time to undo many of the noxious policies of the McAuliffe era.
So far, Gov. Youngkin has shown his gratitude with both actions and words. He routinely meets with Police Captains and prosecutors around the state and has supported bills that will increase training and equipment for police departments and other first responders. Recently, he signed a bill that will allow schools to know whenever a teacher is arrested and blocked a highly-publicized bill that sought to curtail the Police’s investigative powers.
Nationwide, this campaign helped put police support back in the political arena. Far from the sensational cries for “defunding” law enforcement, Youngkin’s (and our campaign’s) triumph shows that America wants to feel safe again. Next year, we can expect more support and concern for the lives of our first-line defenders.