Pres­i­dent Trump drives big­ger turnout — for Dems

Dayton Daily News - - IDEAS & VOICES - Clarence Page He writes for the Chicago Tri­bune.

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.

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