NEWSLETTER — September 17, 2020 — Powerful Partnerships

Countdown to the General Election
on November 3:
69 Days


If there’s one thing we’ve all learned as activists, it’s that we are greater than the sum of our parts. Individuals working together make a powerful organization; organizations working together make a powerful network. Enough of us come together, and we are unstoppable! 

Like the Borg. But, you know. Not evil.

Plus, with us, Resistance is NOT futile!

This week, building power through partnerships has been much on our minds, collectively speaking. Partnerships within our group, partnerships among grassroots groups in New Jersey, and a very exciting new partnership on a national level! 

First, we’d like to announce the resumption of one of our favorite partnerships ever.

Our beloved Judy Kelly, formerly our Co-Executive Director and Field Director, has agreed to serve as Chair of the NJ 11th for Change Board of Directors! We’ve missed Judy since she stepped back from the day-to-day operations of the group, and are all hearts-aflutter at this sign that she still loves us.

She loves us, she loves us, she loves us.

As anyone who has worked with Judy knows, the woman is a powerhouse. She understands our organization inside and out, brings her heart and soul to everything she does, and (to be completely honest) she still has most of our group swag stored in her garage. As the Chair of our Board, she’ll be able to share her wisdom and experience with us, and provide an unvarnished big-picture perspective on our day-to-day operations.

“If I agree to serve as Chair, will someone please take the boxes of
NJ11 buttons out of my garage already?” asks Judy.
No, Judy, no we won’t.

We extend heartfelt gratitude to former Chairman Jonathan Bellack, who has served in that vital role from Day 1. Jonathan has been a generous, dedicated, and shrewd advisor as our group evolved. We are very pleased that Jonathan will remain on the Board, and hopeful that in his hard-earned free time he’ll be able to take up some relaxing new hobbies. You know, like postcarding. Or textbanking, or …

Thank you, Jonathan, for serving us so well during your years as Chairman!


And … another powerful partnership deserves celebration this week!

On Friday, our ally group BlueWaveNJ coordinated the efforts of many grassroots organizations to host simultaneous demonstrations at post offices across New Jersey. In total, over 20 events were held, protesting the dismantling of the United States Postal Service. 

NJ 11th for Change partnered up with BlueWaveNJ by hosting two of the rallies, in Morristown and in Wayne. Turnout was high — almost 200 people total between our two locations — and so were spirits.

A statewide show of support for our USPS!

An extra-special thanks to Sal Schifano and Dianne Douthat, who made the Wayne event a horn-honking success (and brought cookies for the postal workers, too!).

(left to right) Sal, cookies, and Dianne

At Valley Road P.O. in Wayne.

And a giant shout-out to Bridget Daley, who got us lots of great media coverageand found just the right spot for over 100 protesters in Morristown!

At Convent Station, Morristown.


There’s one more partnership — an incredibly urgent national partnership — that we're launching TODAY!

In previous newsletters, we have hinted at our upcoming collaboration with Working America (WA), the progressive activism branch of the AFL-CIO. Their data-driven, analytics-tested approach to persuading moderate voters has proven highly effective, and we are thrilled to be partnering with them in a letter-writing campaign geared towards national impact. You want to support Biden in swing states, and give Trump the bum’s rush out of the White House? 

This is the way to do it. And now is the time!


How does Working America’s system work? And why are we convinced it’s worth our effort to help?

WA has been operating since 2003, and has built a membership of about 3.5 million people, cutting across many demographics and political affiliations. This gives them a broad view on American voters from coast to coast, including 2.4 million voters in battleground states that will be crucial to reach before November 3. 

The group works to influence voter behavior through issue education — followed (as the election gets closer) by persuasion that links those issues to candidates. 

But how does Working America know what issues reach voters, and what arguments are persuasive? Data, data, data!

Coordinated by an independent social science research group, some 70,000-80,000 Working America members are surveyed every month about issues, political affiliations, and more. This pool is also “treated” with texts, letters, phone calls, and social media outreach, allowing the data team to analyze statistical trends and identify the most effective approaches to persuading not only their members, but also demographically-similar segments of the general public.

Pre-COVID, year-round door-to-door canvassing was a core part of Working America’s approach. Canvassers were trained to have substantive discussions of issues, listening to voters’ concerns and building trust with millions of members.


Over the years, this in-depth outreach has allowed Working America to develop a detailed understanding of people and how they vote. And because Working America listens to its members’ concerns, it has built trust with its members, who have come to count on WA for reliable information. 

All of this deep background knowledge has helped Working America to identify subgroups of voters that can be influenced to vote for more progressive candidates — IF we provide them with the information they need to focus on the right wedge issues. 

Right now, WA’s analysis has determined that a voter whose top issue is healthcare is 39-44% more likely to be a Biden voter. They have also identified a significant, specific subset of their members (non-college-educated voters and those who do not have cable t.v.; how’s that for specific?) that can be swung by a significant margin to vote blue … IF we can persuade them to make healthcare their number-one issue.

That’s where our NJ 11th for Change volunteers come in. 

Working America’s campaign is targeting this cohort of voters in a focused set of swing states: Arizona, Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, Minnesota, Kentucky, and Ohio. The organization has tested outreach focusing on healthcare and has model letters ready for us to use. The letters ready to send right now, at this stage of election,

do not mention Trump!
do not mention Biden!
do not mention the election AT ALL! 

And yet, they work. They work to swing voters, with success rates that completely outstrip other campaigns. Election after election, Working America’s approach has worked in changing peoples’ minds — and changing how they vote.

We know many NJ 11th for Change members want to support Biden’s campaign. You may have been envisioning sending postcards with pictures of Joe Biden looking charismatic, of Kamala Harris looking determined; you may have been thinking about writing messages that sing the praises of Joe and Kamala, urging people to vote Blue! And as satisfying as those postcards and letters would be to write, they aren’t as effective at swinging voters as this Working America strategy: focusing on issues at this stage of the election season, and only later linking those issues to the candidates. Focusing specifically on the #1 issue — healthcare — that gets people to change their vote from Trump to Biden.

Working America’s goal is to send out 850,000–1,000,000 letters, which they anticipate will swing 200,000 voters in battleground states

Want to learn more about the Working America letter-writing campaign? Click here.

Are you ready to buckle down? Working America asks each volunteer to commit to sending 200 letters over the course of the next 8 weeks: 25 letters per week. You’ll need stationery, stamps and access to a computer printer, but other than that, it’s simple. Here is how it works

  • WA will send you a list of addresses, and several healthcare-related letter templates (as computer docs), each market-tested and vetted. 
  • You choose one of the templates, and customize it by typing in a paragraph about your own personal experience with healthcare in America, and how it has influenced your feelings about this important issue. 
  • Add “Dear _______” and print out the letter! 
  • Sign it, stuff it in an envelope, stamp it, and address it, and mail it. Done!

Experienced WA volunteers say it’s actually EASIER than postcarding — much less writing by hand. Just your signature at the bottom of the letter and a handwritten mailing address. It doesn’t get easier or more efficient than that!






Totally doable. Even more doable if you partner up with a friend to share the cost and the workload! Get the family involved, too — kids are great at stuffing envelopes!

Jim Price has volunteered to captain our team of Working-America letter-writers. If you are interested in joining this HIGH-IMPACT team, please email Jim, and put “Working America” in the subject line. 

The enigmatic Jim Price. Creator of the Mikie-Mail mailbox, king of the Letters-to-the-Editor team, and now captain of NJ11’s squad of Working America letter writers. Anyone else starting to think the man’s got a thing for the mail?

We are SO excited about our partnership with Working America. At NJ 11th for Change, we always want to get results from the time and energy we’re putting in; we want the most bang for our buck. We know how much our members want to influence the presidential race in battleground states, and we’re confident that THIS is the best way to do it. 

We hope you’ll take part in this powerful partnership! 




September 4: online voter registration opens

October 5 (Monday): deadline for County Clerks to mail VBM ballots

October 9 (Friday): call your County Clerk if you haven’t received a VBM ballot! 

October 13: voter registration / address change deadline

October 23: deadline for County Clerks to mail voters information about polling place locations

November 3 (Election Day): in-person polls open 6 a.m.–8 p.m.; deadline for USPS postmarks and dropboxes

November 5: ballots lacking postmarks (due to USPS error) must be received to be counted

November 10: ballots postmarked by Nov 3 must be received to be counted

November 20: deadline for election results to be certified


Events &
Volunteer Opportunities


  • LETTER-WRITING TO SWING STATES—Send letters to a carefully selected cohort of swing-able voters in swing-able battleground states! See the newsletter write-up above for more details, and email Jim Price to get involved with this campaign, which is focused on the presidential election. Launching NOW! Don't delay!

  • POSTCARDING IS HAPPENING—NJ 11th for Change will be mailing postcards to CD11 voters in two more phases, with a different target group each time. Phase #3 (the biggest!) will be starting starting soon and still needs volunteers, as will Phase #4. Turnout is everything this year — for races up and down the ballot, from the White House to Congress and the Senate to every local race. If you’d like to get your name on the list of volunteers, email Leslie right away!
  • VANQUISH THE VILLAINS “TAKE BACK THE SENATE” CAMPAIGN — The Kickoff is over, but the opportunity continues! NJ 11th For Change is partnering with SOMA ACTION for this effort to ensure that Senate seats in Maine (Collins), Arizona (McSally), and North Carolina (Tillis) turn BLUE in November! (Fans of West Orange's hometown astronaut may take especial interest in helping out with the AZ race!) Join up to compete and make your mark! [We still need a Team Leader for North Carolina.] Here's how to sign up for our teams:
    • MAINE: Email Susan with the subject "VANQUISH THE VILLAINS"
    • ARIZONA: Email Maralyn with the subject "VANQUISH THE VILLAINS"
    • NORTH CAROLINA: Email with the subject line "VANQUISH TILLIS" 
  • CALL TO ACTION: NJ ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE BILL UPDATE — Prior to Monday, August 31. Assembly Bill A2212 concerns the disproportionate, detrimental environmental & public health impacts of pollution on overburdened communities, i.e., communities of color and low-income, who are hardest hit by multiple pollutants and polluting facilities (for example, the trash incinerator in Newark). The bill was scheduled for an Assembly vote last Thursday but was not held because it did not have enough votes to pass. It had previously passed the Senate, but since changes had been made since that vote, the bill will need to get through the Senate again as well. We need to keep the pressure on to keep this very important bill moving.
    1. Please call Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin! Tell him you want to see this bill posted for a vote again, at the next voting session, which is currently scheduled for Aug 31. Call 732-855-7441
    2. If your Assembly reps are not sponsors, please call and ask them to co-sponsor and/or support the bill when it comes up for a vote. If they are a sponsor (John McKeon is a Primary Sponsor), please reach out and thank them and express your ardent support.
  • YOUR TOWN TEAM — IT’S WHERE CHANGE HAPPENS! NOW IS THE TIME to step up and get involved locally! Across the 11th, town teams are out there making (properly distanced!) noise and helping to create the change they want to see in their own hometowns. Not sure if NJ 11th for Change has an active town team where you are? Email Leslieto sign up and get yourself going in the right direction.




  • VERONA TOWN TEAM VIRTUAL MEETING—Wednesday, August 26, 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM. Join us for the next joint meeting of the NJ 11th for Change Verona Town Team and the Verona Democratic Committee. Please RSVP to Ellen Buttolph and we'll provide you with the ZOOM link.


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NJ 11th For Change

NJ 11th for Change is a 501(c)(4) unaffiliated organization dedicated to advocating for all people of New Jersey’s 11th Congressional District. We foster an engaged and informed community with the power to shape our political representation so that it is transparent, responsive and accountable—and so that it reflects the values of fairness, compassion, inclusivity and a decent quality of life.