Former Democratic congressional candidate launches voting rights group

California Democrat Andrew Janz, one of the top House fundraisers of the 2018 cycle, is leveraging that political network into a new organization focused on voting rights. 

Janz’s Voter Protection Project, which he announced Wednesday morning, will work both to help rally support ballot initiatives in the key electoral battlegrounds as well as to support candidates who share his views on the issue.

His priorities include: automatic voter registration, online voter registration, same day registration, expanding early voting and absentee voting, ensuring states devote enough resources to polling places, as well as re-enfranchising felons who have finished prison terms. 

“During my campaign for Congress it became very clear that our Democracy is at risk. It is facing a direct assault from President Trump, Devin Nunes and Republicans across this country who are actively trying to dismantle it,” Janz said in a statement. “We will fight back against every attack on our right to vote by leading the charge to make sure every American — young Americans, people of color, and disenfranchised communities — have the right to cast a ballot.” 

Janz, a Fresno County prosecutor, gained traction for his bid Nunes, then the head of the House Intelligence Committee. The Democrat was able to harness Democratic frustration with the way Nunes handled the committee’s investigation into possible Russian collusion in the 2016 election.

Janz raised more than $9 million during the cycle, more than all but four House candidates (not including self-funders. But Nunes capitalized on the outsized interest on his race too, raising $12.6 million and defeating Janz by almost 6 percentage points. 

Now, the Democrat is hoping to lean on that fundraising network to help power his new group, one of the handful of Democratic-aligned groups looking to back candidates and ballot measures meant to expand voting access.