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EMILY's List (EL) is a political network that raises money early in the election cycle each year for Democratic, pro-choice, female candidates. The organizers of EL believe that providing such “early” funding gives its recipients greater public credibility and, consequently, access to more campaign contributions from a wide variety of sources. "EMILY" is an acronym standing for "Early Money Is Like Yeast (it makes the dough rise)."
EMILY’s List was established in 1985 by a group of some 25 women, led by Ellen Malcolm, who decided to bundle their political contributions in order to support "progressive" female candidates. These founders gathered in Malcolm's basement to prepare fundraising letters to their friends about the new network they were forming. By 1986, EL membership stood at 1,155.
In 1994, EL began work as a "full-service" campaign organization, offering political consulting services and operating "get-out-the-vote" drives that targeted women. EL reported that in the 2002 election cycle, it raised $24 million for its own expenses and campaigns, as well as $9.7 million in bundled candidate contributions from its 73,000-plus members. In 2004, EL member donations totaled more than $10 million. Today EL claims a membership exceeding 100,000.
In August 2006, the EL website stated, “Since our founding, we have helped elect 61 pro-choice Democratic women members of Congress, 11 senators, and eight governors.” These figures do not include the hundreds of local candidates whose campaigns EL has supported over the years. Among the notable recipients of EL funding have been Tammy Baldwin, Barbara Boxer, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Rosa DeLauro, Dianne Feinstein, Sheila Jackson-Lee, Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Barbara Lee, Cynthia McKinney, Patty Murray, Jan Schakowsky, Hilda Solis, Nydia Velazquez, Maxine Waters, Diane Watson, and Lynn Woolsey. Many of these are members of the Progressive Caucus.
Formally, there are only three requirements for a candidate to earn EL’s support: The candidate must be a woman; she must be a Democrat; and she must support unrestricted access to taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand. EMILY's List has withdrawn its support from women who vote against event the most extreme abortion positions. For instance, Mary Landrieu, the recently re-elected Democratic Senator from Louisiana, lost EL’s backing when she voted in favor of a ban on partial-birth abortion.
EMILY’s List depicts the Republican Party as being hostile to women domestically and to other governments globally. “The Bush Republicans have launched a sustained assault on the right to choose and advances for women,” says EL. “They have run our economy for the benefit of the few, at the expense of us all. And on the world stage, they have created more enemies than friends for the United States, threatening our security.”
EMILY’s List oversees a number of program areas:
* The "Air EMILY" Project: This project trained and mobilized 1,300 activists to spearhead a “get-out-the-vote” drive on election day 2004 in Florida.
* Campaign Corps Program (CCP): Established in 2003, this program “trains a select group of recent college graduates to work on targeted progressive Democratic campaigns for the three months leading up to election day.” In the 2004 election cycle, EL trained more than 500 “promising young activists” through CCP. In 2006, this number increased to 700. Campaign Corps trainings have been held on numerous campuses, including Spelman College, Wellesley College, Yale University, UCLA, Michigan State University, and University of Texas at Austin.
* Training and Campaign Jobs Program: EMILY's List “teaches campaign professionals how to be campaign managers, researchers, field operatives, and fundraisers.” In 2004, this program was responsible for 47 training sessions attended by 1,801 people in 30 states.
* Political Opportunity Program: This program not only “helps pro-choice Democratic women run [for] and win … state and local office,” but also “seeks out and asks qualified pro-choice Democratic women to run for office.” In 2005, this program was responsible for 27 trainings in 18 states – attended by 962 women who were running, or considering running, for elected office.