Millennials could nearly double their representation in state legislatures this year, according to a new report out Wednesday from the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) and Run for Something, a group that aims to build the Democratic party’s bench of candidates.
Right now, people ages 18 to 34 make up only 6 percent of state legislatures, but, according to the report, more than 700 millennial Democrats — aged 18 to 34 — are running for state legislative seats in 46 different states. Their potential wins could dramatically reshape state legislatures around the country.
“Millennial state legislators are setting themselves up for long careers in public service — they’re both the future leaders of our party as well as the right-here, right-now folks who are laying a path forward for our country,” Run for Something wrote in a blog post Wednesday.
Some of the millennial candidates hoping to transform their state governments have already been the subject of national news. Rachel Crooks, who is running in Ohio, is one of more than a dozen women who have come forward publicly alleging sexual misconduct by President Trump.
Earlier this year, she told ThinkProgress that carving out a space for people who aren’t traditional politicians was important to her.
“I remember asking, like, do you think there’s space in politics for people who are not how you perceive politicians?” Crooks said. “Ultimately I decided there should be a space for this kind of person.”
In Florida, state House candidate Anna Eskamani has become something of a social media icon after the state GOP attacked her for cursing on the campaign trail.
“EXPLICIT LANGUAGE WARNING: Edited to Meet Decency Standards,” a mailer sent to Florida voters last month read. “Anna Eskamani in her own words: ‘I don’t take SH*T ever,’ ‘Look at the SH*T we have to put up with,’ ‘F*CK the patriarchy.’”
— Anna V. Eskamani (@AnnaForFlorida) September 21, 2018
“Is it just me, or does this second attack mailer make me look fierce AF?” Eskamani tweeted.
In New York, a group of young candidates primaried a number of Democratic state senators known as the Independent Democratic Caucus (IDC) who caucused with Republicans, and nearly all of them won. Alessandra Biaggi, 34, knocked off the group’s leader, Sen. Jeff Klein, in an dramatic upset win.
Klein was so spooked by the challenge that he spent more than $2 million on the race — more than Cynthia Nixon spent on her gubernatorial primary bid against Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Biaggi spent 10 times less than Klein and still managed to knock the former leader off the board.
Young socialist candidates have also found success running for state legislatures. Julia Salazar, a Democratic socialist candidate in New York, managed to win her primary — despite a number of national controversies — against a conservative Democratic state senator in Brooklyn. She’s uncontested in the general election.
Earlier this year in Pennsylvania, two young Democratic Socialists of America (DSA)-backed candidates, Sara Innamorato and Summer Lee, beat two different members of the center-left Costa family, a political dynasty in the state. Another young Democratic socialist candidate, Elizabeth Fiedler in Philadelphia, beat three men and secured 51 percent of the vote to win her primary.
As the DLCC noted in its release Wednesday, Democrats are just 17 seats away from flipping eight Republican-controlled state legislatures.