⏩ Ja­hana Hayes joins record num­ber of women bound for Wash­ing­ton.

The News-Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Rob Ryser

What Con­necti­cut can ex­pect after Tues­day’s elec­tion of the state’s first black con­gress­woman is an agenda of pro­gres­sive ini­tia­tives, from a $15 hourly min­i­mum wage to Medi­care for all.

Ja­hana Hayes, who beat Trump Repub­li­can Manny San­tos on a plat­form of sup­port­ing pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion, cre­at­ing cit­i­zen­ship pro­grams for im­mi­grants, pass­ing gun safety leg­is­la­tion, clos­ing the eq­uity gap, and mak­ing health care avail­able to every­one, will have a hard time pass­ing any of those mea­sures with a hard­line con­ser­va­tive in the White House and a Repub­li­can-led U.S. Se­nate.

But Hayes won’t be alone. Go­ing to Wash­ing­ton, D.C., with her in 2019 as part of the new Demo­cratic ma­jor­ity in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives will be a record num­ber of women — in­clud­ing pro­gres­sives Alexan­dria Oca­sio-Cortez, of New York, and Ayanna Press­ley, of Mas­sachusetts — both of whom, like Hayes, de­feated es­tab­lish­ment Democrats in their pri­maries.

As such, Hayes is not only con­sid­ered a ris­ing star in the Demo­cratic Party, but a stan­dard-bearer among pro­gres­sives.

“Her vic­tory is a vic­tory for ev­ery­thing she stands for: Medi­care for all, re­tire­ment se­cu­rity, and an op­por­tu­nity to suc­ceed no mat­ter the color of your skin, your eco­nomic sta­tus, or where you come from,” said Lindsay Far­rell, state di­rec­tor of the Con­necti­cut Work­ing Fam­i­lies Party, in a pre­pared state­ment. “Amid the stark con­trast be­tween Ja­hana’s pro­gres­sive, in­clu­sive vi­sion and her op­po­nent's Trumpian pol­i­tics, vot­ers made their choice clear.”

One of Hayes’ ear­li­est sup­port­ers, U.S. Sen. Chris Mur­phy, agreed.

“Ja­hana Hayes is go­ing to be a rock star in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives,” Mur­phy said in a pre­pared state­ment. “Ja­hana is part of an im­pres­sive group of new mem­bers in the House who will help lead the coun­try away from the past eight years of dis­as­trous Repub­li­can lead­er­ship, and in­stead fight to grow wages, pro­tect health care, in­vest in ed­u­ca­tion, and hold Pres­i­dent Trump ac­count­able.” Al­though Hayes was a po­lit­i­cal new­comer and rel­a­tively un­known in Con­necti­cut’s 5th District ex­cept for her se­lec­tion in 2016 as the Na­tional Teacher of the Year, Hayes never trailed San­tos. Her aggressive fundrais­ing, her abil­ity to in­spire cam­paign vol­un­teers and her charisma with vot­ers had Wash­ing­ton elec­tion fore­cast­ers call­ing her the fa­vorite as soon as she trounced her pri­mary op­po­nent.

But it was Hayes’ abil­ity to trans­late her per­sonal story of hard­ship into a mes­sage of hope, and her fo­cus on the is­sues that gave her what state Demo­cratic Party Chair­man Nick Bal­letto called “un­stop­pable mo­men­tum” and pro­pelled her to a 30,000-vote vic­tory over San­tos.

San­tos was gra­cious in his con­ces­sion.

“I and my op­po­nent ran a rel­a­tively clean cam­paign, fo­cus­ing on the is­sues,” San­tos said in so­cial me­dia post. “The out­come was not as we had wanted; none­the­less, the vot­ers of the district have spo­ken and have elected Ja­hana Hayes.”

H John Voorhees III / HearstCon­necti­cut Me­dia

Demo­crat Ja­hana Hayes, can­di­date for Con­necti­cut’s 5th Con­gres­sional District seat, cel­e­brates her vic­tory dur­ing an elec­tion night rally on Tues­day in Water­bury.

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