Young Progressives Help Democrats Win Back U.S. House

UPDATE NOV. 17

Democrats now have gained 35 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, the most House seats picked up by the party since 1974; that year’s midterm election wave followed the Watergate scandal.

UPDATE NOV. 15

The recount of votes in the Florida governor’s election has ended and Ron DeSantis is the winner.

UPDATE NOV. 11

The Florida governor’s race is going into overtime, with Republican Ron DeSantis leading Democrat Andrew Gillum by just 33,684 votes. More than 8 million people voted. That’s a narrow enough margin,  0.41 percent, to force a machine recount under state law. A recount is also underway in the contest for a U.S. Senate seat in Florida.

UPDATE 9:40 P.M. PST

With 365 out of the 435 total seats in the House of Representatives declared, Democrats appear headed to take control of the House. Currently, Democrats have picked up the minimum 23 seats that they needed to retake the House. At this point, Democrats have 190 seats. Republicans are trailing, with 175 seats. Final results from California, Nevada and other West Coast states are forthcoming.

UPDATE 8:23 P.M. PST 

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who would have been Florida’s first African-American governor, appears to have narrowly lost his race against U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis.

A DeSantis victory will be seen as a win for President Trump as well. Both Republicans were closely aligned throughout the campaign. Gillum’s political star was rising after he won the Democratic primary in an upset of former Congresswoman Gwen Graham.

UPDATE 7:48 P.M. PST 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democratic candidate for New York’s 14th Congressional District, made history when she became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. With 80 percent of votes counted, Ocasio-Cortez was trouncing her Republican opponent, Anthony Pappas. Her easy victory is in contrast to a hard-fought primary in June, when Ocasio-Cortez upset 10-term incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley. Crowley was considered a potential successor to Nancy Pelosi as the House Democratic leader, and he had not faced a challenger to his seat since 2004.

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Will there be a Blue Wave in today’s elections? And if so, what shade of blue?

On a day when Democrats need to pick up 23 seats to take back control of the U.S. House of Representatives—with all 435 House seats up for grabs—and the Florida’s governor’s race will be in the national spotlight, Stanford student reporters for Newsroom 104 focus on candidates seeking to move the Democratic Party further left. These include:

  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a self-described Democratic Socialist from the Bronx. At 29, Ocasio-Cortez would likely be the youngest woman elected to Congress. Her platform includes Medicare-for-all, tuition-free public college and abolishing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, known as ICE.
  • Ammar Campa-Najjar, a 29-year-old first-time candidate. Campa-Najjar is seeking to unseat GOP Rep. Duncan D. Hunter in a conservative congressional district spread over parts of San Diego and Riverside counties. Hunter and his wife, Margaret, pleaded not guilty to federal fraud charges of misusing campaign contributions earlier this year.
  • Andrew Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee. If elected, Gillum would be the first African-American governor in Florida, a state where a Democrat has not held the governor’s office since 1998. His Republican opponent, former U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, is an ally of President Trump and served three terms in Congress.

New York’s 14th District Congressional District

Ocasio-Cortez upset 10-term incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley in the June Democratic primary. Crowley was considered a potential successor to Nancy Pelosi as the House Democratic leader and had not faced a challenger to his seat since 2004.

As recently as last year, Ocasio-Cortez, whose mother is from Puerto Rico and late father was from the South Bronx, worked as a waitress and a bartender to help support her family. “Women like me aren’t supposed to run for office,” says Ocasio-Cortez in the opening line of her campaign video.

While at Boston University, where she studied economics and international relations, she worked for the late Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy. More recently, she campaigned for Bernie Sanders in his unsuccessful 2016 presidential bid. Now as a candidate herself, Ocasio-Cortez, like Sanders, is charting a path away from the Democratic establishment. Her campaign pledged not to accept donations from corporate political-action committees, like many progressive candidates, and several of her positions are left of the party’s mainstream.

Ocasio-Cortez is likely to win today’s election in the heavily Democratic congressional district. Her Republican opponent is Anthony Pappas, a 72-year-old associate professor of economics and finance at St. John’s University.

California’s 50th District Congressional District

Campa-Najjar has run an uphill battle in a district where only approximately 27 percent of voters are registered Democrats. His GOP opponent is five-term incumbent Rep. Duncan D. Hunter.

A Democrat has not held this congressional seat in more than three decades, according to ABC. Still, some polls show a large enough number of undecided voters to swing the election in either direction; One survey once showed Hunter with an eight percentage point lead, but now estimates his lead to be around three percentage points.

Hunter and his wife, Margaret, pleaded not guilty earlier this year to federal charges of misusing campaign funds. During this campaign, Hunter has alleged that his Democratic opponent is a security risk because of his family history; Campa-Najjar has denied Hunter’s allegations, and multiple fact-checkers in the press have disputed them.

The Florida governor’s race

Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee since 2014, won the Democratic primary in a field of five candidates, upsetting the expected winner, former congresswoman Gwen Graham.

He received high-profile endorsements from former President Barack Obama, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló. He also has the backing of a number of civil rights and LGBTQ organizations.

Gillum supports expanding Medicaid in Florida, replacing ICE and a $15-an-hour minimum wage. He opposes Florida’s so-called stand-your-ground law, which permits a person in fear of his or her life to use deadly force to repel an attacker.

Ron DeSantis, Gillum’s Republican opponent, is a conservative former congressman from a working-class family. DeSantis graduated from Yale University and Harvard Law School and served in the U.S. Navy. He opposes expanding Medicaid and gun restrictions, and he supports school choice. President Trump recently visited Florida to campaign for DeSantis.

Gillum has criticized DeSantis for allegedly failing to distance himself from white supremacists, which DeSantis denies. DeSantis provoked controversy when he said voters shouldn’t “monkey this [election] up” by supporting Gillum, though he subsequently said he did not mean to imply anything about race. Meantime, Gillum’s campaign has been clouded by an FBI probe of political corruption in Tallahassee. No one has been charged.

Feature Image Credit: Purchased from Associated Press Images


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