When We Run for Something, We Win: A Primary Season Recap
It’s official, primaries are done and we’re racing full speed ahead to November. Across the country, voters from all walks of life — rural farmers to the big city urbanites, first-time voters and vets at the polls — have echoed the same sentiment: It’s time for a change. We’ve seen sweeping victories that have served to debunk tired myths around who can and should run for office. This year’s primaries have broken new ground and thousands of young progressives have stepped up to run for office for the very first time.
Run for Something is thrilled to represent 406 candidates at the polls this November. Our candidates have spent the past year pounding the pavement and knocking on thousands of doors to build a better tomorrow for their future constituents. And boy did voters come out in return. According to some polls, Democrats saw a 78% increase in voter turnout from 2014 primaries. What’s even more badass: Candidates who were written off as “unlikely winners” gave a big middle finger to the old boys’ club, winning by huge margins.
Here are a few amazing trends we’d like to highlight coming out of primaries:
Women Are Running…And Winning
Women make up more than 44% of all candidates running for state legislature this fall and have won more than 3,276 primaries going into November including first time candidates Mari Manoogian in Michigan’s State Senate 40th District and Elizabeth Lockman representing Delaware’s State Senate District 3.
Diversity Numbers Are Up
This year we’ve seen an impressive turnout of diverse candidates running. The dramatic increase in young, diverse progressives running for office serves as proof that when we can and will continue to kick establishment ass. Folks like Dave “Hutch” Hutchinson and Malcolm Kenyatta represent the more than 400 non-incumbent LGBTQ candidates running for office this year. This year, Run for Something has endorsed 78 first-time LGBTQ candidates for state and local office.
Our Candidates Reflect Their Communities
Local politics may no longer look like an old country club. (Finally!) In states like Arizona, with a large Hispanic population — 30% to be exact — Latinx candidates such as Alma Hernandez for State Representative of District 3and Brian Garcia for Tempe Union School Board are running to better reflect the demographics in their districts and bring equity to repressive policies that have hurt so many immigrant communities.
Uncontested Primaries May Be A Thing Of The Past
Wanna hear something abismal? In 2016 more than 40% of state legislative primaries were uncontested. This year that number has dropped to 33% with candidates such as Sam Edwards of South Carolina, who challenged a 20-year incumbent who had run without a democratic challenger for nearly a decade.
The decrease in uncontested elections has also pushed long-time representatives and voters to take a hard look at what “progressivism” looks like in politics today. In New York City, six young upstarts, including our candidates Alessandra Biaggi, Jessica Ramos, and Zellnor Myrie, soundly defeated members of the IDC, a right-leaning “Democratic” caucus in the pocket of the GOP.
Teachers Are Stepping Up And Showing Out
Most of our candidates are like you and me. They’re regular folks who stepped up to fix the issues that people in positions of power have ignored. For far too long teachers and students have born the brunt of cuts to public education. After this year’s historic teacher walkouts, over 500 educators decided to run for something, advocating for the wellbeing and safety of their pupils.
What we’ve seen over the past 9 months is a momentous shift in culture and action around midterm elections. When voters have candidates who reflect their values, their issues, and their communities, they will show up. More importantly, regular folks like us are taking a stand and running on progressive platforms that have the potential to bring about systemic change. Sitting on the sidelines is no longer an option. The new progressive wave (we think the kids are calling it the “blue wave”) is here to stay and will dominate this November.