State party committees are descending onto the nation's capital on Wednesday and Thursday to start training under a new Republican National Committee initiative that intensifies the party's focus on grassroots development before 2020.
The previously-under-wraps initiative, called Project GROW, started in 2019 as a way for the GOP to filter its massive knowledge and resource base through party-strengthening plans tailored to each state's challenges. That includes advising parties on outreach strategy and fundraising, in addition to giving them free access to detailed voter data that it's been accumulating for the past several years.
The new program reflected RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel's interest in building the party from the grassroots up.
"The strength of the Republican Party comes from our grassroots, and with 100% participation from our states and territories in Project GROW, and their presence here at the training this week, we again are demonstrating our robust organization, strong infrastructure, and commitment to electing GOP candidates up and down the ballot and re-electing President Donald Trump in 2020,” McDaniel said in a statement to Fox News.
Wednesday's event specifically worked to prepare committee members for communications, fundraising, political tactics, and data use before the 2020 elections. “Our first-ever Spring Training is a testament to the RNC’s unified effort with our state parties," McDaniel also said.
Project GROW represented the culmination of Republicans' attempt to reach deeper into states and localities – taking a page from Democrats' and former President Barack Obama's community-focused model that helped them beat the GOP in 2012.
Part of that strategy included taking a bottom-up approach to distributing resources among states rather than imposing uniform standards across the country. "Everything with Project GROW is unique to the state," Kim Jorns, who leads the initiative, told Fox News on Wednesday. She also told Fox News that the RNC didn't issue orders for Project GROW plans but instead responded to the state party chairmen’s input and the state’s unique political landscape.
TRUMP 2020 VICTORY DEPENDS ON '3 CRITICAL THINGS,' KARL ROVE TELLS SEAN HANNITY "We listen to them, what their vision is, what their goals and priorities are for their state, what their unique challenges are in their state," she told Fox News. Each of the 56 state and committee territories have signed onto the project, with 44 already receiving customized plans.
Democrats, meanwhile, faced reported interparty conflicts with members alleging the national committee attempted a power grab when it tried to compile all of its state-level data into a massive, national database. State parties could also still harbor resentment over the DNC's reported delay in fulfilling Chairman Tom Perez's pledge to invest $10 million at the state level.
And while the RNC is offering state parties and candidates its treasure trove of data for free, the DNC reportedly charged $175,000 for candidates to access its 50-state voter file.
In February, the DNC announced a new initiative — Organizing 2020 — designed to recruit students graduating before the 2020 elections, and train them to support candidates as field organizers.
“Organizing Corps 2020 will build a powerful pipeline of young talent — energized Democrats who reflect the diversity of their communities," Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said in a press release from February.
"This new organizing program will help us recruit organizers who will become our future leaders and grow the party, win more elections up and down the ticket, and build the organizing infrastructure our nominee will need to take back the Oval Office.”
But the DNC faced a potentially long primary season as their list of 2020 presidential candidates continued to grow and the party seemed poised for a vigorous debate over whether it would take a more progressive — versus moderate — approach to challenging President Trump. Republicans, meanwhile, had the advantage of unifying behind the president.
Polling in May has mostly shown Former Vice President Joe Biden beating Trump in a general election but a poll from May 22 showed the two tying in 2020.
Heading into the 2020 elections, Republicans continually led Democrats, who faced millions in debt, with record-breaking fundraising numbers. In April, Republicans raised a record $15.9 million after taking in $45.8 million in the first quarter of 2019. Democrats only managed to raise $6.6 million in April.