Progressive Grassroots Campaigns Find Success in Districts Trump Won

Voters take to the booths. Joe Raedle/Newsmakers

Last week, two Democrats won victories for state representative positions in special elections in districts that Donald Trump won by double digits.

In Oklahoma, Democrat Jacob Rosecrants won a special election for state representative in a district that Trump won by over 10 percentage points. Rosecrants, a teacher and Bernie Sanders supporter, received a boost from Oklahoma’s Our Revolution chapter. An integral part of Rosecrant’s campaign was arguing against the influence of corporations and special interests on the state government.

In New Hampshire, Democrat Charlie St. Clair defeated his Republican opponent in a district Trump won by 16 percentage points. St. Clair told the Observer, “The reality is what I’ve told people right from the get go is that I’m willing to listen to anybody and to work with anybody and to listen to constituents. It wouldn’t be my job down there to go down and say, ‘Well this is how I feel and I really don’t care what my constituents feel.’ I go down there and I have my way of looking at things, but the reality is I’ve got to remember, and I will remember, that I’m down there representing the constituents of all the people in this district. That’s how I’ll act. That’s how I’ll perform is with that in mind.” St. Clair explained that his campaign transcended the usual political battles in which candidates hide behind party labels and attack one another based on partisanship, which alienates voters. “At the same time, I’m going to uphold the values that I think are important, but always keep that in mind, what my constituents would want. I’ve told people that. I think that’s what a lot of people want to hear today. I think people are tired of this constant fighting between, ‘I’m a Democrat. You’re a Republican,’ or, ‘I’m a Republican. You’re a Democrat.’ The bottom line is we’re all Americans and we just need to do what’s best for everybody. That’s how I look at it. I think that maybe that resonated with people because obviously a lot of Republicans voted for me.”

Earlier this year in New York, Bernie Sanders delegate Christine Pellegrino made headlines for winning a special election for State Assembly in a district Trump handily won. All of these victories signal that the tide is turning against Republicans. However, this shift cannot be chalked up to favor turning to the Democratic Party; polls demonstrate the party’s popularity has been relatively constant. Instead, these wins prove Democrats can win as long as candidates focus on serving people in the communities they intend to represent rather than pouring money into campaigns and relying on anti-Trump rhetoric. The success of grassroots progressive energy is what will ultimately bring the Democratic Party back into favor. Democratic leaders need to decide if they are going to obstruct the movement to save the status quo or embrace it for the greater good of the party and the country.

Progressive Grassroots Campaigns Find Success in Districts Trump Won