ACLU Takes First Step in Major Plan to Oust Republicans in 2018 Midterms.

The following was first reported by Politico:

The American Civil Liberties Union, rarely an active player in national campaigns, is jumping into the 2018 midterms with plans to spend upward of $25 million promoting ballot initiatives and issues in contested races across the country.

Soaring after a banner year — the ACLU raised $93 million online in the 12 months after Donald Trump was elected president, up from $5.5 million the year before, and its membership quadrupled to 1.6 million — the civil rights group is in the midst of a dramatic makeover. The group aims to rival the National Rifle Association as a force on the left and become a hub of the anti-Trump movement.

“It’s clear that a larger portion of the American public is deeply engaged in politics in a way they’ve never been before,” said Executive Director Anthony Romero — and the ACLU aims to be a hub of liberal political activism.

Most of the ACLU’s spending in 2018 will be directed at Republicans, though operatives haven’t ruled out indirectly going after Democrats on the wrong side of their issues, too. It will not form a PAC or endorse candidates, moves that would mean losing its 501(c)(4) nonprofit status, instead limiting its activity to promoting issues and initiatives. Among them are voting rights, the travel ban, disability rights, reproductive rights and immigration.

The explosion in donors and members came during a roller-coaster year that saw the civil rights group in the eye of some of the biggest political storms. The ACLU catapulted into public view with its opposition to Trump’s travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries in the early days of his presidency, and experienced a backlash after going to court to defend the right of white nationalists to protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, last summer — a move consistent with its history of defending free speech regardless of the speaker.

Wading into the midterms is part of a larger recalibration for the 100-year-old civil rights organization, as it taps into the same the anti-Trump grass roots that sprouted a range of new Trump opposition groups. It has been rapidly adding new staff and projects, from joining the coalition that organized against repealing Obamacare to taking action to protect so-called sanctuary cities.