2018 is officially over (thank goodness!). So quick, let’s review what we’ve done together, shall we?
Over the last cycle, 208 Run for Something-endorsed candidates won their elections. There are now a record number of Asian Americans in local offices across the country. Women crushed it — on both state and local levels — helping put a significant dent in the political gender gap. Candidates made history: People like Brianna Titone — the first trans elected official in Colorado history and Frank Scott Jr., the first African American elected to the office of mayor by popular vote in Little Rock, Arkansas.
The hard work of these candidates cannot go unacknowledged. They’ve made incredible strides in their local communities and they have created a new normal. Their bravery and tenacity showed us what democracy should look like and we are so proud to have been a part of these candidates’ amazing accomplishments.
2018 offered us many opportunities to grow and and learn. A few lessons learned:
There is incredible value in building a diverse Democratic bench.
We know you’ve read tons of think-pieces and articles on the rise of diversity in office following midterms, but diversity for diversity’s sake is not — and should never be — the goal. Diversity is more than a quota. It’s more than a politically correct photo-op. It is the intentional inclusion of millions of citizens whose needs and opinions have gone ignored for decades (or, honestly, centuries). We’ve seen attacks on women and communities of color in no small part because women and people of color haven’t been in the room to advocate for themselves in the first place.
When we set out to help build the Democratic bench, we looked to individuals who were ready, willing, and able to move the needle forward — individuals who reflected our values in who they are and what they do. People like Anna Eskamani. A former employee of Planned Parenthood Southwest and Central Florida and the daughter of Iranian immigrants, Anna has worked for over a decade to support at-risk women. She is now a member of her district’s State House, with the ability to introduce legislation that supports and protects the reproductive rights of women.
There are also people like Megan Hunt, the first openly bi-sexual Nebraska legislator. Before running for office, Megan was an LGBTQ+ activist, working to halt dangerous practices like conversion therapy in her state. Like Anna, Megan now has the opportunity to fight for the rights of queer people as both a citizen and a public official.
We can’t stress enough how important it is to have people like Megan and Anna in local office. For years, those with the talent to run weren’t seen as “viable” candidates because of their backgrounds and how they looked. Today, we have given the middle finger to those rules. In 2018, diversity in office was not seen as a limitation, but something to celebrate and uplift. But the work is not over. In 2019, our goal is to make sure that diverse candidates are not an anomaly, but a given. They should be as commonplace as the Ivy-League white-bread males who keep running… again and again and again.
Down Ballot Matters, Too.
Following the Election-That-Must-Not-Be-Named-But-Forever-Relived-on-Twitter, millions of energized people came out in droves to reaffirm their dedication to progressivism.That work begins in local communities.
We have always been clear on our goal: help create a new energized Democratic bench that begins in small towns and local municipalities. The fights we’re waging on a federal level need to start in city council and mayoral offices.Nearly every issue we’re facing in D.C. can be challenged in some way on a local level. Even more important, some of these issues are better handled in the state.
Take Dave Hutchinson, the new Sheriff of Hennepin County in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Competing against a xenophobic, ICE-loving conservative, Dave decided to run for office to protect immigrant communities and help bring much needed reform to the ways law enforcement interacts with communities of color. Dave’s work has the potential to begin in the next year. Our decision to focus on down ballots was not an accident. We have the ability to focus on change now, in real time.
In focusing on local elections, we’ve had the opportunity to pinpoint some of the concerns that are plaguing communities that in the past have gone unheard. For example, a number of our rural candidates have discussed, at length, the reallocation of funding for farmers and farm workers and the strain that it puts on their communities. These are the voters that are desperate for candidates that will focus on the needs of the community instead of playing party politics.
What’s Next For Run for Something In 2019?
More to come on that in the next few weeks! But the TL;DR on 2019 and 2020 is that the there is no such thing as an “off year.” States like Louisiana, Virginia, and Ohio have state legislative races, and there are thousands of open city council and municipal seats in cities across the U.S. We’re going to be working across the country, while prioritizing states where redistricting is a priority for post-2020.
We plan to recruit even more first-time candidates to run for something, and some folks are getting a head-start. Since National Run for Office Day 2018, we had over 10,000 people express interest in running for office in 2019 or beyond.
2018 was a banner year for us (what we’re doing works!!!), but trust and believe, we’re just getting started. If you (or someone you know) is ready to run, or hell, just wants to know what that process would even look like, sign up today and get ready to help make a difference. We’re making big moves in 2019… don’t miss a chance to join us in making history happen.
And if you want to be a part of this work for the future, chip in. Every single dollar matters.