How ‘Sister District’ Helped Shanda Yates Unseat Longtime Mississippi Republican


Sister District, a California-based group dedicated to helping elect Democrats in state legislatures across the country, helped one Jackson area political newcomer unseat a longtime Republican incumbent. Once Hinds County officials finished counting provisional ballots this week, Jackson attorney Shanda Yates narrowly defeated Republican Bill Denny, who has represented House District 64 for 32 years.

"This was a Trump district. Hillary got 44% in House District 64. This was not a traditionally blue district," Sister District co-founder and Political Director Gaby Goldstein told the Jackson Free Press on Tuesday.

Sister District, a non-profit group that focuses on helping Democrats win in state legislatures, also has an affiliated PAC in Mississippi that, as of Oct. 29, had raised $5,732.51 and spent $5,457.13.

Yates, who had never planned to run for office until Democratic leaders began urging her to enter the race about two weeks before the March filing deadline, told the Jackson Free Press that Sister District helped her with the technical "in the weeds stuff that I wouldn't have been able to handle on my own"—like field organizing, identifying likely supporters and tracking doorknocking. Their support, she said, was "huge."

Sister District also helped Yates by sending text messages to voters and knocking on doors, with Brandon Turner, the organization's head of campaigns, knocking on doors in Jackson through election night.

"Really, I think the key part of our grass-roots support for Shanda was strategic advice," Goldstein said. "We helped put together a campaign early on. ... I think Shanda's win is a tremendous bright spot for us. We believe no district is out of reach, and no state is out of reach. It's just a matter of providing inspiring candidates with resources they need."

'Dems Should Be Running Everywhere'

In 2015, Democrats did not even field a candidate to challenge Denny, the House Republican floor leader.

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