People For the American Way

Six Young Progressive Candidates to Watch in Tomorrow’s Election


Contact: Drew Courtney at People For the American Way

Email: [email protected]

Phone Number: 202-467-4999

Progressive Millennials on the Verge of Big Electoral Gains in Local and Statewide Elections Across the Country

As the nation turns to the most important set of elections since 2016, People For the American Way’s Next Up Victory Fund is working to support 77 progressive candidates, age 40 and under, running for state and local office all across the country.

In particular, Next Up is helping to build a bench of progressive leaders by supporting candidates in key races—including legislative seats that will impact 2020 redistricting—and in helping a diverse set of candidates win races that will allow them to make credible runs for higher office in years to come.

“If progressives want to build lasting political power, we need to start at the grassroots. And that means supporting young candidates running for state and local office,” said PFAW Political Director Lizet Ocampo. “We’re proud to have endorsed an extraordinary slate of smart, passionate progressives in races all across the country. These are people who are going to start making change immediately, and who are well positioned to become national leaders in the years to come.”

Six races to watch tomorrow on the future of the Democratic Party, with progressive millennial candidates endorsed by Next Up, include:

Justin Fairfax – 38 – candidate for lieutenant governor, Virginia – After growing up in his grandparents’ home in a Washington, D.C. neighborhood ravaged by drugs, violence and fading economic opportunity, Fairfax turned his career to public service. A former assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia and the deputy coordinator of the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force, Fairfax holds degrees from Duke University and Columbia Law School.

Danica Roem –33 – candidate for state legislator, Virginia – During her time as a local reporter, Roem exposed stories including Dominion Power’s environmentally disastrous plan for new power towers that would have displaced longtime residents. Now, as a candidate, she’s focused on issues close to home, like fixing traffic congestion and funding public schools; if elected, she’d be the nation’s first openly trans person to be elected and seated as a state legislator.

Melvin Carter –38 – candidate for mayor, St. Paul, Minnesota – A fourth generation Saint Paul resident and former city council member, Carter has focused his career on creating opportunities for families in his community. He currently serves as executive director of the Minnesota Children’s Cabinet, advising the governor on early childhood policy and advocating for critical investments in all-day kindergarten and universally accessible Pre-K.

Dimple Ajmera –30 – candidate for city council, Charlotte, North Carolina – When Ajmera was appointed to represent District 5 in the Charlotte City Council in July, she became the first Asian-American and the youngest woman ever to serve in that role. An immigrant, a CPA and a fair housing advocate, she is now running for an at-large seat on the council.

Nada Al-Hanooti – 27 – candidate for city council, Dearborn, Michigan – An educator and community advocate, Al-Hanooti has lived in Dearborn since she was four years old. Now running for city council, she’s focused on guaranteeing clean air and a clean environment for her community.

Carlina Rivera –33 – candidate for city council, New York, New York – A lifelong resident of the Lower East Side, Rivera still lives in the building in which she grew up, the daughter of a hardworking single mother. An active community member, Rivera assisted in coordinating nearly 4,000 volunteers to knock on 15,000 doors of homebound residents who had lost power, heat and water after Hurricane Sandy.

Next Up Victory Fund works to change the current landscape by identifying and vetting progressive candidates younger than 40 in state and local elections, and supporting them in a variety of ways, including:

  • Endorsing and providing support including direct financial support, press outreach, and connections to both high-level and small dollar grassroots donors as permitted.
  • Engaging PFAW members and networks in candidates’ states to help get out the vote, recruit campaign volunteers, attract donors, and more.
  • Helping to amplify and credential these younger candidates, who—depending on their experience—might need help establishing themselves in the eyes of potential supporters.

People For the American Way is a progressive advocacy organization founded to fight right-wing extremism and defend constitutional values including free expression, religious liberty, equal justice under the law, and the right to meaningfully participate in our democracy.