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Lee Jin-man / AP

A group of technologists who worked under President Obama have formed an organization—Higher Ground Labs—to fund and mentor early-stage startups focused on politics. The goal is to help make the type of tech tools found in national political campaigns available off-season to left-leaning candidates in local and state elections, co-founder Betsy Hoover told Recode.

The group already has $1 million in committed funds from undisclosed investors, and has backed a forecasting startup named Deck.

Why it matters: With Republicans currently controlling both the legislative and executive branches, it's particularly important for Democrats and other progressives to work to shift that balance both at local levels and at the next mid-term elections. What's more, local elections can have a bigger direct impact on people's lives, as Voter CEO Hunter Scarborough, who recently joined another voter-focused app, Brigade, told Axios in January.

A-list team: Hoover's co-founders are Shomik Dutta, who served on Obama's 2008 and 2012 campaigns and advised the FCC, and Andrew McLaughlin, a former deputy CTO for Obama who's also worked at Google, Medium, and Tumblr. Higher Ground Labs' board of advisers includes Jeremy Bird (Obama's 2012 field director), Jon Favreau (Obama's speechwriter, now Crooked Media co-founder), Michael Slaby (CTO for Obama's 2008 campaign), Raffi Krikorian (formerly at Uber and Twitter), and Dan Pupius (an entrepreneur formerly at Medium and Google).

Go deeper

The next worker fight: Time off for Juneteenth

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Who gets paid time off to celebrate Juneteenth in the years to come will be uneven and complicated, if history is any guide.

Why it matters: Corporate America hasn't grappled with a new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was authorized almost 40 years ago. How they responded took years to evolve.

Pakistan PM will "absolutely not" allow CIA to use bases for Afghanistan operations

Pakistan will "absolutely not" allow the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency to use bases on its soil for cross-border counterterrorism missions after American forces withdraw from Afghanistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan tells "Axios on HBO" in a wide-ranging interview airing Sunday at 6 pm ET.

Why it matters: The quality of counterterrorism and intelligence capabilities in Afghanistan is a critical question facing the Biden administration as U.S. forces move closer to total withdrawal by Sept. 11.