Like millions of Americans, I woke up on Nov. 9, 2016, devastated by our new reality and wondering what to do next. Donald Trump had just been elected president. How had this happened?! I voted, and everyone I knew voted, too.

So, with millions of women from across the country, I drove to our nation’s capital and marched when he took office. But when the march ended, Donald Trump was still president. I looked at my fellow marchers and asked, “Now what?”

People often ask me what my job in politics was before becoming chair of the Maine Democratic Party, and I always say, “I voted!” But this time, voting wasn’t enough. As we get closer to Maine’s first presidential primary in decades, you might be asking yourself what task you should undertake in politics to make sure this never happens again.

Because if we’re going to win in 2020, voting alone won’t be enough this time, either. Every path to winning the United States Senate runs through Maine. And no matter who is president, we need a Senate that works to give every American a fair shot at success. But Donald Trump and Susan Collins are being propped up by their wealthy corporate allies, which means we have to work twice as hard to defeat them. That’s why on March 8, just a few days after the presidential primary, Democrats will gather together at caucuses in towns and cities across Maine.

Although we’ll be casting our votes for our preferred presidential nominee the week before, caucuses are the first step in building our winning coalition to support our eventual nominees for president and U.S. Senate, Reps. Jared Golden and Chellie Pingree and legislative candidates up and down the ballot. We’re going to need every ounce of support in building a strong infrastructure to persuade voters, one household at a time. That’s why the caucuses are so important.

That Sunday in March will be our chance to officially kick into high gear our strategy to win in November. We’ll rally together with our families, friends and neighbors who share our values, showing the strength of Maine Democrats. And we’ll plug you in to volunteer and training opportunities in your community so that you can hit the ground running.

We’ll elect leaders to your town and county Democratic committees, who will help mobilize for positive change in your communities, educate and inform voters and support candidates in your districts. They also help identify and train candidates who should run for local office. Local officials make key decisions about how resources in your community are used, so finding candidates who share our values to win these seats is crucial.

Each town and city will also choose delegates to the Maine Democratic Party State Convention. At the convention, we’ll elect Maine’s national delegation to the Democratic National Convention in July, where they will formally cast their votes for the candidates that Mainers chose in our presidential primary.

Joining your local caucus also makes sure the Democratic Party’s platform reflects the values of voters from all over the state. From urban to rural areas, from Arundel to Aroostook, your participation will help shape and define the values and policies Democrats stand for in Maine.

Three years ago, I left Washington on that cold January morning an ordinary citizen who voted and occasionally marched. But when I returned to Maine, I kept marching, protesting and organizing. And last year, I saw the chance to join a movement right here in our state. I attended my local caucus and became part of the Maine Democrats’ strategy to win in 2018.

We showed what a Blue Wave can look like last year by electing Gov. Mills, electing Jared Golden in a district Donald Trump won and achieving Democratic majorities in the state Legislature. We need you to rise and organize, because voting alone is not enough. We need you to become part of our movement to take back the United States Senate and sweep Donald Trump out of office for good. And that starts March 8 at your local caucus.

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