Thousands of progressive young people have expressed interest in running for office since the start of the year, demonstrating ongoing energy on the left after last year’s elections.
Run For Something, the PAC that supports young progressives running for state and local office, says 6,554 people signed up for its pipeline in January, many of whom indicated their interest to run in the wake of the insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6.
The high interest comes on the heels of Democrats winning the White House and Senate, and maintaining their majority in the House.
While signing up with Run For Something demonstrates a potential candidate’s interest in running for office, it does not mean they will run in the next few years, nor does it guarantee the person will run at all. But the number of people who have signed up with Run For Something in the last month is far greater than anything the organization has seen before. Just 1,939 people signed up for the pipeline in January 2020.
And of those who signed up for Run For Something this past January, more than 3,500 people said they’d like to run within the next two years, according to the organization.
“We need to win local office because it’s not enough to win the House, Senate and White House,” Amanda Litman, co-founder and executive director of Run For Something, said, adding that action taken at the national level will not impact regular people’s lives fast enough.
“Progress happens locally,” Litman said.
Since its founding, Run For Something — which launched in 2017 as a response to President Donald Trump’s inauguration — has recruited more than 70,000 potential candidates. Its pipeline provides potential candidates with tools and resources to start and sustain their political campaigns, including training sessions, conversations with Run For Something alumni, as well as a potential endorsement.
In the past four years, the group has spent about $2 million a year supporting candidates. The group has supported 486 young people who have been elected local office across all 50 states and their elected candidates have been 56% Black and brown, 55% women, 21% LGBTQ and all under the age of 40.
The group noted a number of factors that may be motivating young people to consider running for office in addition to the insurrection, including the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 election and the nation grappling with racial justice. All shed light on the role that state and local elected officials play, the group says.
Some of the young people who have signed up for Run For Something’s pipeline in January told the organization they started to consider running after the death of George Floyd, the Black man in Minnesota who died after a White officer knelt on his neck last year, or because of a lack of Covid-19 relief in their communities.
Call to action
The insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6 also served as a call to action.
On that day, Shayna Jaskolka, a 20-year-old student at University of Iowa, tweeted her interest in running for office.
“Today is the day I officially decided I want to run for office in the future. We can’t have this happen again. Ever. We are no longer a world superpower. I want to bring back integrity to this place,” she wrote at the time.
Jaskolka has now officially signed up for the Run For Something pipeline.
“I sat there thinking about what happened and what was going on and what this meant, and I decided to tweet and make it official to say one day I will run for office to hold myself accountable,” Jaskolka told CNN.
She told CNN she plans to run for Congress in Iowa in 2026, as she will be just a month shy of being eligible to run for Congress in 2024.
“In the meantime, I definitely think I might run for state House or state Senate,” Jaskolka said.
“Hopefully I’ll end up being the youngest person elected into Congress,” she added.
For his part, Nicholas Cropper, a 24-year-old from Florida, said he decided to run for office after the insurrection because he was “utterly appalled” by his local representation in Sarasota, Florida.
Cropper said his state senator, Joe Gruters — who cast an electoral vote for Donald Trump — posted on Facebook ahead of the January 6 Trump rally, saying that if people wanted to travel to DC for the rally, he had a friend going who would help organize travel.
“Learning that one of my state representatives had a hand in what happened at the Capitol on the 6th really got me thinking about where these people get their start. It’s so clear to me that they get their start in city council on school boards or as state legislators,” Cropper said.
Cropper, a public health student at the University of South Florida, says he would like to run for office immediately, but recognizes he is still in school.
“I’m eager to get on the trail and do this and be the candidate, but I understand that there’s a lot to this that I haven’t experienced yet,” Cropper told CNN.
“That’s not to say I won’t try this year for my local city council in Sarasota,” Cropper said, adding that his real goal would be to run for state legislature.
Meanwhile, Luis Vizcarrondo Jr., a 30-year-old minister in Cleveland, intends to run for city council in Cleveland this year.
Vizcarrondo has considered running for a while, after experiencing racism and hearing of hatred toward the Latino community in the city, he says. “But the insurrection was the last straw for me,” Vizcarrondo told CNN. “As a father of three kids, I would never have thought I would see a day like this.”
Vizcarrondo has a disabled daughter and an autistic daughter, and says he hopes to build a better world for them, as well as his 1-year-old son.
“I don’t want them to live in a world where people are constantly bashing them and something needs to change.”