People For the American Way

Young Progressive Candidates Score Big on Election Day


Contact: Drew Courtney at People For the American Way

Email: [email protected]

Phone Number: 202-467-4999

Diverse, Progressive Millennials Win Key Races in State and Local Contests Nationwide

In the most important set of elections since Donald Trump’s election last year, young candidates endorsed by People For the American Way’s Next Up Victory Fund scored important victories in states across the country yesterday. In addition to winning key offices in which they’ll make an immediate difference in their communities, victories yesterday also help build a robust bench of future candidates for higher office at the state and federal level.

With results still coming in, at least 38 Next Up Victory Fund endorsed candidates were elected yesterday. In Virginia, 12 candidates endorsed by Next Up, including Lieutenant Governor-elect Justin Fairfax, won their races.

“At a time when we face critical challenges as a country, it’s more important than ever that we build a strong bench of progressive elected officials who are positioned to have long careers in public service,” said PFAW President Michael Keegan. “These are candidates who are bringing new energy to the Democratic Party and who won by connecting with their community and talking with their neighbors about the issues that affect their lives. It’s that kind of hard work, whether it’s done on the streets or online, that made the difference yesterday—and that will make an even bigger impact in 2018.”

“If progressives want to build a strong movement that can win at the national level, we need to start by electing young candidates who are winning races at the grassroots level,” said PFAW Political Director Lizet Ocampo. “The young candidates who won yesterday aren’t household names—yet. But we know that the state and local leaders of today are the national leaders of tomorrow. The people who will be sworn in as governors and senators in a few years are winning races for school board and city council today.”

Winning candidates endorsed by Next Up include:

Justin Fairfax – 38 – 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 – state representative, 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. As a candidate, she was focused on issues close to home, like fixing traffic congestion and funding public schools; Roem is the nation’s first openly trans person to be elected as a state legislator.

Jennifer Carroll Foy – 35 – state representative, Virginia – Jennifer Carroll Foy is a public defender, foster mom, and graduate of the Virginia Military Institute, graduating in one of the first classes of women cadets of the historically all-male college. Her platform included expanding Medicaid, strengthening schools, improving public transportation, and protecting women’s access to reproductive health.

Melvin Carter –38 –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. Winning a majority of votes in a multi-candidate race, Carter will be the first African American mayor of St. Paul.

Mark Barbee – 28 – mayor, Bridgeport, Pennsylvania – After serving on the Bridgeport council for the past four years, Mark Barbee will now become the city’s first African American and first openly gay mayor. As a councilmember, Barbee helped to create a business association and to institute a curbside recycling program.

Carlina Rivera –33 – city council member, 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.

Dimple Ajmera –30 – city council member, 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, Ajmera won an at-large seat on the city council.

Tamaya Dennard – 38 – city council member, Cincinnati, Ohio – After being raised by a single mom who relied on services like public health clinics to take care of her family, Tamaya Dennard says she entered politics to make sure these important services were protected. Dennard is a former city hall aide who currently works for a nonprofit social innovation firm. She is a passionate advocate for increasing women’s representation in government.

Sumbul Siddiqui – 29 – city council member, Cambridge, Massachusetts – A first-generation immigrant from Pakistan who moved to the U.S. as a child, Sumbul Siddiqui developed a passion for community engagement while growing up in Cambridge. She has studied law and public policy, served as an AmeriCorps fellow, and currently works as an attorney at a legal aid nonprofit that offers free legal services to seniors and low-income people.

Stephanie Morales – 33 – commonwealth’s attorney, Portsmouth, Virginia – In 2015, Stephanie Morales was the first woman to be elected as commonwealth’s attorney of Portsmouth, the position to which she has now been re-elected. In this role, Morales has worked to ensure the safety of Portsmouth’s communities, combat recidivism, and support the development of young people.

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 as permitted, including: endorsing to PFAW members, providing support including direct financial support, connecting candidates to both high-level and small dollar grassroots donors, and recruiting campaign volunteers.

“In state and local races, we know that even a small donation can have an outsized impact,” said Ocampo. “We know that when we ask our members to support Next Up candidates, they’re getting the biggest bang for their buck.”

In addition, PFAW provided:

  • An in-person event and robocall in support of Kathy Tran, elected to the Virginia State Legislature, by PFAW board member and civil rights legend Dolores Huerta.
  • Digital ads in support of Danica Roem, elected to the Virginia Legislature.
  • A GOTV Day of Action in support of Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor-elect Justin Fairfax and Danica Roem
  • PFAW board member and Gold Star father Khizr Khan’s endorsement of Melvin Carter, mayor-elect of Saint Paul, Minnesota.
  • Video endorsement of Lieutenant Governor-elect Justin Fairfax and Delegates-elect Jay Jones and Kelly Folwer by actor Jason George (in conjunction with The Hometown Project.)
  • Video endorsements of Delegates-elect Danica Roem and Kelly Fowler by actor Mark Ruffalo (in conjunction with The Hometown Project.)

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.