WASHINGTON, D.C. —From the joint keynote by 17 young progressives to the roll call across America showcasing the Democratic Party’s diversity to video narrations during this week’s Democratic National Convention, 15 political rising stars who have been endorsed by People For the American Way’s Next Up Victory Fund—which is building a pipeline of young progressive candidates age 40 and under to win races for state and local offices across the country—helped lay out the case to support Joe Biden as the Democratic nominee for the next president of the United States.
On opening night, Next Up candidate for DC Council At-Large Markus Batchelor appeared in #TheRising video featuring music and a cameo by iconic singer and songwriter Bruce Springsteen.
One of the biggest highlights was the Day 2 keynote, which included nine Next Up and PFAW candidates, current and former endorsees, who the DNC called a “young and diverse” collection of lawmakers from across the country: 2018 Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams (GA), State Senator Raumesh Akbari (TN), U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle (PA), State Senator Yvanna Cancela (NV), State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (OH), Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried (FL), State Representative Malcolm Kenyatta (PA), State Rep. Mari Manoogian (MI), and State Rep. Sam Park (GA).
These young progressives are on the front lines of transformational change — from the movement to protect voting rights under attack to advancing progressive policies that protect the health and public safety of their communities. They used their platforms to address specific issues like supporting essential workers, free and fair elections, and restoring accountability and integrity in our justice system.
Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes (Wisconsin), Mayor Melvin Carter (St. Paul, MN), Council President Brandon Scott (Baltimore, MD), State Senator Nikema Williams (GA) and Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman, PFAW endorsee and candidate for governor (VT) cast the delegation votes for their states during the roll call.
Scott is the Democratic nominee for Mayor of Baltimore and emphasized a new form of public safety for the city, citing a need for transparency and accountability. Carter has been a vocal proponent of addressing the systemic racism that plagues this country and his own city after George Floyd was murdered in neighboring Minneapolis. Barnes has been busy leading the charge to convince the swing state voters of Wisconsin of the importance of flipping the state for Biden in November. Williams, also the Georgia Democratic chairwoman, was tapped by the party to replace John Lewis on the ballot in November.
KEYNOTE QUOTES FROM NEXT UP CANDIDATES
“A new generation is rising up,” said Pennsylvania State Representative Malcolm Kenyatta, the first openly gay Black man to serve in the state legislature, who appeared with his fiancé. He spoke openly about past economic hardships and “the insecurity and indignity of an eviction notice.”
“We stand with Joe Biden because this isn’t about just defeating Donald Trump,” said Stacey Abrams, PFAW endorsee. “We are in this to win for America.”
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried (FL) helped remind us of the lack of leadership to control the spread of the coronavirus. “Make no mistake. It didn’t have to be this bad,” she said.
State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (OH) emphasized the dangers faced by workers in Ohio and across the nation as a result of this administration’s failure to provide guidance on how to work safely in the face of a pandemic.
Georgia State Representative Sam Park lifted up teachers being asked to return to the classroom to risk exposure to COVID-10 without a plan to keep them safe and acknowledged the feelings of helplessness when loved ones are sick and access to healthcare is a matter of life and death.
While the collective keynote focused heavily on health care and the economy amid the pandemic, young progressives also highlighted Biden’s plans for policies that prioritize reproductive health and climate change. State Senator Raumesh Akbari (TN) noted that Biden will continue fighting for women as he’s done his entire career. “As president, he’ll restore funding for Planned Parenthood. He will codify Roe v. Wade and make reducing maternal mortality, especially for women of color, a top priority,” said Akbari. On climate change and the economy, State Senator Yvanna Cancela (NV) noted, “Unlike Donald Trump, Joe Biden will actually enforce ‘buy American’ rules, investing in American-made clean energy, building materials, high tech equipment and RND, all creating more good jobs.”
From Michigan, State Representative Mari Manoogian emphasized that Trump still doesn’t have a plan to move America forward and said, “Joe knows we can never let hard times turn us against each other.”
“He knows what it’s like to work hard for everything you’ve got,” said U.S. Representative Brendan Boyle (PA). “You deserve health care you can afford and a job that pays you fairly. You deserve child care and paid sick leave while you work. And, when you pay into social security and Medicare, you deserve to know it will be there when you retire.”
About the Next Up Victory Fund
PFAW’s Next Up Victory Fund helps young progressive candidates age 40 and under win races for state and local offices across the country. Next Up is building a deep bench of progressive candidates well positioned to control state legislatures, win statewide, and run for federal offices in the years and decades to come. Learn more: https://www.pfaw.org/next-up-victory-fund