Who we are now/History Oklahoma ACORN has been virtually non-existent since its glory days in Tulsa, over 20 years ago. 2007 is Year Zero. State Assessment As we consider the next five years we must think about how we can take power in a state that is poor (37th in U.S.) but 76% Anglo; has more registered Democrats than Republicans but has been reliably voting conservatively on most races and issues; and has a very diffused population: of its 3.5 million residents, only 1.1 million live in the three biggest cities.1 The fourth biggest, Lawton, has a population of only 90,000, meaning that in order to have membership in areas that represent a majority of the population, we would have to organize in numerous small cities of 50-80,000 residents. Therefore, the route to power is twofold: First, build powerful city organizations in Oklahoma City and Tulsa that can control these municipalities. Second, become an influential organization by shaping a handful of strategic legislative districts that, by themselves, can change who controls the state legislature. In other words, by taking credit for controlling some swing seats that return state senate power to progressives in 2008 and the state house to progressives in 2010, ACORN may not have members in a majority of districts, but we will be seen as the force that is making Oklahoma a progressive state in the way that it was 100 years ago. By using this power to win significant changes for working people, by the end of our 5 years, we will have legitimized the progressive takeover of the statehouse and head into 2012 with a real possibility of changing what Oklahomans look for and expect out of their Congressional delegation. Membership Growth Goals Table 1 shows the projected membership growth over the next five years. All is for neighborhoods in Oklahoma City and Norman until 2009, when we will expand to Tulsa. If we were to secure political funding to target Senate District 33 in Tulsa, however, we would go there in 2008. 2007 System # of Members (all types) per Org per Month # of Members (all types) per Canvasser per Month Total # of Full Members Total # of Associate Members Total # of Provisional Members Total Members
5 160 80 600
10 160 240 2,000
15 160 300
20 160 350
20 160 400 2000 5000
5,000 10,000 5,000 8,000
5,680 12,240 7,300 12,350 7,400
534,000 in Oklahoma City, 382,000 in Tulsa, and 102,000 in Norman.
All of this growth will be through the Associate Member canvass in 2007. In 2008, we will employ traditional field organizers to deepen the base in the targeted house and senate districts, as well as other base neighborhoods, where the canvass has built an initial membership. By the end of 2008, we will have 3 neighborhood groups in Oklahoma City and one in Norman. By the end of 2009, we will have one in Tulsa. Further analysis of swing districts heading into the 2010 elections will determine which other neighborhoods in these three cities we expand into. Issue Agenda to Propel ACORN’s Growth Foreclosure Crisis (2007) Currently, we are canvassing on this issue in targeted districts. We believe it can be a legislative issue and election issue that we use in 2008 after having organized and won some things around the issue this year. Children’s Healthcare (2008-10) Currently, Oklahoma has one of the lowest income ceilings for S-CHIP. While there are some attempts to change that now, we think the issue may be unresolved going into next year’s legislative session. We began our work in Oklahoma, campaigning on raising the limit for CHIP and found it much less exciting to people we canvassed than the foreclosure campaign. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do the campaign; we may just want to do it once we have an established membership that is invested in the issue and when we can figure out a way to use it to join members, like through VITA sites or outreach strategies other than a canvass. Minimum Wage (2010) Everyone here has been excited about minimum wage, but they have failed to place it on the ballot. For two reasons, I think we should build a labor/community coalition that moves this in 2010. First, if Congress passes an increase, its last bump will be in 2009. Second, a ballot initiative in 2008 will not swing any federal races here. By 2010, we may actually affect some Congressional races as well as the Gubernatorial race. Politics and Elections 2007-2008 Table 2 (attached) outlines ACORN’s targeted districts for 2007 and 2008. The Oklahoma state senate is split 50/50, so we are targeting one swing district in Oklahoma City, Senate District 43, held by a Republican, and possibly a second in Tulsa, SD 33, which is held by a Democrat. In addition, we will target 2-3 swing House Districts in the Oklahoma City area, though the Democrats need several seats to take the House. All of the targeted districts will be organized by an Associate Member canvass, organizing, for now, around the foreclosure crisis, and working to register 37% of unregistered voters (13,898 total). The canvass will be followed by organizers putting together district meetings that will begin to form permanent ACORN organizations in the district and move members around a Working Families agenda that includes a 2008 legislative agenda. Priority #1: Senate District 43 This district would be the biggest prize, but it also has the largest margin of victory to close. Senator Jim Reynolds won by 3,600 votes, with almost 57% of the vote, in 2004. On the south end of Oklahoma City and the northern section of Cleveland County, the district includes part of Del City and
abuts Tinker Air force base. The district’s south half will prove difficult, with more Anglo, Republican, and military families. The half to the north will be more fruitful. The entire district is working class, however, so it could respond uniformly to the right issue. This is the one of ACORN’s two targeted districts with a minority population above 25% Goal: 25 full members, 750 associate, 5,000 provisional, 5,064 voter registrations. Priority #2: House District 93 This is the other district with a high minority population: over 30%. It also has very mixed income, all of which is low and moderate. It is an open district which the Democrats last won with fewer than 100 votes. It had the lowest turnout of our targeted races (though still high at 67%) and it has the highest rate of unregistered voters with nearly one unregistered voter per household. This is a hot one. Goal: 25 full members, 400 associate, 2,500 provisional, 4,364 voter registrations. Priority #3: House District 87 This Republican-held seat is a paler version of HD 93: Whiter, more Republican, a little more affluent, and a little more active in terms of voter registration and turnout. But it is the most-likely House seat for the Democrats to flip. Goal: Goal: 25 full members, 400 associate, 2,500 provisional, 4,470 voter registrations. Low Priority: House District 85 This district is all above 110% median income and Republican held. Indeed, the high Republican registration also portends an uphill battle. District 85 is in northwest Oklahoma City, and includes Nichols Hills, a very affluent city within Oklahoma City. This does not look like ACORN turf, but the razor-thin victory margin suggests that we should never say never about doing something here. Low Priority: Senate District 33 This seat will not help the Democrats take the senate, but it will help them keep it. It is unlikely that we will get to Tulsa in time to work on this race, but if a cry for help went out to ACORN, we would want to respond. 2010 The Democratic Governor will termed out and, if we are successful with our Working Family basebuilding, we may have some Congressional seats that we can impact.