In the week after the 2018 midterm elections, I celebrated victories by women (including 29-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman to serve in Congress in the U.S.), people of color, and LGBTQ candidates. What I didn’t know was that at least some of those candidates, and many more in state and local elections, likely were inspired to run during last year’s National Run for Office Day (NROD). The first-ever NROD took place in 2017, with a plan for it to be celebrated annually on the second Tuesday after the second Monday in November (the week after election day); this year, that was November 13.
After the 2016 election, progressives created the political action committee, Run for Something (RFS) with this purpose:
“Run for Something will help recruit and support diverse progressives under the age of 35 to run for down-ballot races in order to build a bench for the future — the folks we support now could be possible members of the House, Senate, and maybe even President one day.”
The organization, now with 41 partners, posted significant success in that first year. They endorsed 72 candidates across 14 states. Nearly half of those candidates won, with 51% of the winners identifying as women and 40% identifying as people of color. They included school board members, city and county council members, and members of state legislatures.
How did RFS do this year? This image sums up well the organization’s effectiveness at recruiting candidates.
While RFS focuses on down-ballot races (positions at state and local levels), its efforts likely had something to do with the record-breaking number of women elected to the U.S. House and Senate: 102 women won in the House and 3 won in the Senate (joining 10 others already there). This brings the number of women in Congress to 115, the most to serve at the same time in history (the previous record was 107 in 1992).
As I wrote a year-and-a-half ago, I never imagined I’d run for something. But there I was in a down-ballot race in April 2017. Having recently retired from a forty-year nursing career, I threw my nurse’s cap into the ring to serve as one of five commissioners of the newly-formed Lopez Island Hospital District. Since my election, I’ve been learning a lot as the commission works to ensure collaborative, high quality, island-appropriate health care in our community.
Except for being a woman and a progressive, I don’t fit the demographic that RFS is focused on. However, I do subscribe to its belief that “anyone and everyone should consider running for office—especially local office.” Between now and the next National Run for Office Day on November 12, 2019, you might want to consider it, too.