The following is Valerie Ervin’s email announcing her withdrawal from the congressional race for the Eighth Congressional District
I wanted you to be among the first to hear that I’ve decided not to continue my run for Congress in 2016.
It was a hard decision that kept me up many nights. Like many women of all backgrounds across our district who worry about how to pay the bills, send their kids to college, or take care of an ailing parent, my sleepless nights were motivated by money—or more accurately, the lack of it.
You see, I’m not wealthy. I grew up working class and thanks to good union jobs, I’ve been able to work hard and achieve the middle class dream. I’ve been able to buy a home, take care of my needs, and to put away a little for a rainy day and retirement. But like many of you, I need to work to keep up. Unfortunately, our current political system doesn’t make much room for everyday Americans like me—especially women, people of color, and the non-wealthy—to compete on a level playing field.
In politics today, fundraising is the sign of a campaign’s viability. Not your ideas about how to serve your constituents, not your track record of service, not even the groundswell of grassroots support—but your ability to raise money. And unfortunately, I just haven’t been able to raise enough.
It’s no surprise that 50% of members of Congress are millionaires. A Center for Responsive Politics study found that it takes 18 American households to equal the value of a member of Congress’ household.
Right now in Maryland, we see male candidates for office routinely raising more money than the women in those races. We can and must continue to recruit and train more women and people of color to run for office. It’s the only way we can create an inclusive democracy that speaks to the needs of all citizens.
I’m pulling back the curtain on our political system because we all need to consider what role we’re willing to play to improve it. I decided to run because I believe that more people like me need to be the decision-makers. We need more elected officials who put our interests, concerns and needs on par with the wealthy.
During my brief campaign, I’ve been able to meet hundreds of working people who are struggling to provide for their families and meet their financial obligations. My message of the need to create economic stability for Maryland’s families resonated with many communities who are facing greater financial pressure while trying to stretch a shrinking paycheck. I’m as committed as ever to ensuring that the voices of everyone shapes the direction of District 8, the state of Maryland and our nation. And doing so means we’ve got to build better pathways to an inclusive democracy where everyone has a shot at winning political campaigns, despite their access to wealth.
I can’t thank you enough for your encouragement and support of my campaign. I ran for Congress for all of us. Know that my future endeavors will continue to create more room for all of us to prosper and have a say in the political decisions that affect our lives. Stay tuned!