Communications Director for Blue Uprising PAC

    "Christen is an irreplaceable asset on our team. She enabled the entirety of our communications strategy and content for the 2018 election cycle. Without Christen’s steady leadership, we would not have achieved the success that we did. What makes Christen so unique is her positive energy and ability to find humor in any situation. Things get tough in politics and she made it fun, and that was evident as we flipped four Congressional seats." – William Rinehart, Blue Uprising Founder & Director

    As Communication Director for Blue Uprising, an ocean-minded political action committee, I supported the fight for good environmental policy by advocating for kindness and clarity in political dialogues, stringent editorial guidelines, and effective, creative campaign strategies.

    We used a slew of grassroots campaign strategies: small-donor email fundraising campaigns, our nationwide I Surf. I Vote. rallies (that were actually fun), coordinated efforts with on-the-ground organizations in key districts, mailers that didn’t suck, digital ad campaigns, video campaigns, along with influencer collaborations.

    What we did & how we did it.

    Though our team was small, our power was mighty; I like to think that Poseidon/Tangaroa/Davey Jones really had our backs during the 2018 elections. While midterms may not seem like the sexiest of elections, the effect they have on issues, especially the ocean-related issues that we care about, is enormous.

    Congressional representation is the first line of defense for our coasts, and their voice in Washington represents ours. With a Trump-led administration that is increasingly hostile towards in the environment, we knew that electing ocean-minded politicians had to be our number one goal in 2018–matched only by our efforts to get the surfing and ocean community excited about voting. Our work was focused on voter engagement, with a goal to help flip 4 coastal districts from oil-loving Republican leadership to ocean-minded, environmentally progressive candidates (that also happened to be Democrats). And we did it.

    When we started this journey in January 2018, we had four races across the country that we prioritized. Three out of four of them had climate-deniers in office that we were determined to oust, along with a retiring congressman in CA49 that needed to be replaced with a candidate that prioritized protecting their coastal districts. We knew an ocean-minded message could actually help flip these historically conservative districts. In addition to these races, we fought hard for Beto O’Rourke in Texas, and Jessica Morse in CA-04, running digital campaigns targeting surfers and snowboarders, respectively.

    CA - 48 | Orange County, California

    The prodigal daughter returns

    Backstory: I grew up in Orange County, and moved away to Hawaii I was 17. Orange County's conservative tendencies (and homogenous tract housing) were of no interest to adolescent Christen. The opportunity to return to my hometown to help remove a climate-denier that had been in office for 30 years was both healing and impactful for me. As we walked Harley Rouda to the polls on Tuesday morning in November, I felt as if I had finally contributed to the place that had, through it's very nature, made me who I am.

    By using real stories, by real people, we were able to connect with a moderate voting community and help effect real change. This tight race in coastal Orange County is where we focused most of our energy. We began fighting for Harley as the primaries approached. We put up a billboard for the primaries, followed by an effective mailer for the main election. This was supplemented by rallies, voter engagement campaigns, email campaigns and a strong digital campaign.

    With the help of locals on the ground, we sent out a mailer that helped avoid a Republican lockout, and helped Harley win by 123 votes. If it weren’t for that mailer, coordinated efforts between Blue Uprising & Indivisible OC 48, along with countless volunteers knocking on doors, electing Harley would not have happened. Taking on 30-year incumbent Dana Rohrabacher in a district that has historically voted Republican, Rouda’s stance on climate change, along with his promise to make the district a profitable hub of renewable energy and coastal protections, made our endorsement obvious.

    After Rouda won the primary, we continued our push through a grassroots fundraising campaign. This small-donor funded campaign made it possible for us to send out our most important campaign in OC: a letter to coastal Independents and Moderates from the first president of the Surfrider foundation, Rob Caughlan. The letter recounted past oil spills in Huntington Beach, along with a plea to come together and elect a candidate who does not support offshore drilling.

    CA-49 | San Diego

    In CA-49, when Rep. Darrell Issa retired, the competitive fight for his seat between Mike Levin (D) and Diane Harkey began. Levin’s background as an environmental attorney, along with his strong focus on clean energy and environmental protections, make him a boon to San Diego’s coastal economy and a friend to ocean lovers throughout the district and state. Our CA-49 campaign consisted of digital ads that we ran targeting constituents of CA-49. We also engaged influencers and community members, holding our final and most engaged I Surf. I Vote. rally in Carlsbad, CA.

    FL-26 | South Florida

    Florida is ground zero for climate change. As increasingly powerful storms, red tides, flooding, and coral bleaching continue to batter the Sunshine State, we know that electing environmentally-minded representation is the only way to protect residents, especially the underserved and/or impoverished. We supported Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D) because of her clear, strong commitment to addressing climate change and the effect it has on residents, marine life and coastal economies. Mucarsel-Powell’s work with the Coral Restoration Foundation to slow the impacts of climate change on marine life and coral reef systems is the kind of work we need elected officials in Florida to care about. Our digital campaigns ran statewide, and focused on coastal voter engagement. Mucarsel-Powell won a very tight race, and Florida is lucky to have her!

    VA-02 | Virginia Beach

    Supporting Elaine Luria (D) for VA-02 was a no-brainer for us. With incumbent Scott Taylor’s beyond disappointing track record of voting against any and all pro-environment legislation, Virginia Beach was in desperate need of a candidate that understands the needs of rural voters, coastal voters and everyone in between. Luria’s experience as local small business owner and Navy Veteran make her uniquely qualified to lead in Virginia Beach. Her defense of clean water and air initiatives, along with her opposition to offshore drilling made her a shining light in coastal Virginia. Our support in VA-02 included hosting an I Surf. I Vote. rally in Virginia Beach, along with running digital campaigns in support of the candidate. We are proud to say that Elaine Luria won in Virginia Beach by a small, and well-earned, margin.

    Fundraising emails, social video campaigns, voter engagement videos, user generated content from our community, influencer-based campaign videos, and other bits of joy.