President Trump drives bigger turnout — for Dems
Shortly after Inauguration Day, I began to see a new headline pop up in my email feed: “Run For Something.”
At first I thought it was a cynical reader responding to one of my cranky assaults on the know-nothing babblings of our national embarrassment, President Donald Trump. If you think you’re so smart, I have heard, why don’t you run for something?
But Run For Something turned out to be one of several new political action groups that have popped up like Christmas stores in October to help advance progressive politics, outside of regular Democratic Party structures.
While the Democratic National Committee has tried to pull itself together in the wake of its loss to Team Trump, a lot of other independent anti-Trumpers are too impatient to wait.
Started by Amanda Litman, 27, former email director for Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and her political operative friend Ross Morales Rocketto, Run For Something aims to enlist, fund and support an important group that often gets too little attention from Democratic party regulars: progressive millennials.
Run For Something and such other Trump-era progressive groups as Sister District, Swing Left, Flippable and Indivisible aim to do for the left what the tea party movement did for the Republican party’s right-wing base in the Obama years.
I wished them luck but I didn’t expect miracles. Then Tuesday’s off-year elections in Virginia, New Jersey and some other states showed as elections always do that you don’t need a miracle to unseat powerful incumbents in our democratic republic; you just need to get more votes.
Of the 72 candidates that Run For Something fielded, the organization reported on election night that 32 had won seats on school boards, state legislatures and city councils in 14 states, with two other races — both in the Virginia House of Delegates — headed to recounts.
Run For Something’s biggest headline makers included Danica Roem, 33, in Virginia, who became the nation’s first openly transgender state legislator. She defeated 13-term incumbent Republican Bob Marshall, who authored Virginia’s “bathroom bill” and considers himself the state’s “chief homophobe.”
Also backed by Run For Something was Chris Hurst, a former broadcast journalist in Roanoke, Va., motivated to run for office after his late girlfriend, fellow journalist Alison Parker, was murdered by a crazed gunman during a live television report. Pushing education and gun safety, he beat Joseph Yost, a threeterm incumbent backed by the National Rifle Association.
Also on Run For Something’s list was Ashley Bennett, 32, a psychiatric emergency screener in suburban Atlantic City, N.J., who was offended by Atlantic County board member John Carman’s mockery of the Women’s March on Washington after Trump’s inauguration.
“Will the women’s protest end in time for them to cook dinner?” Carman post on Facebook. Ha, ha. Bennett got the last laugh, unseating Carman in the Republican-dominated district by more than 1,000 votes.
For Democrats, this could be the first step to a national comeback, thanks largely to President Trump, who often seems to be doing all he can to embarrass his own cause.