Magazine: USA key races to watch

Matthew McGregor - 03 11 20

ELECTION DAY is 3rd November, but voters in states across the country have been casting their votes for a few weeks already. Most of the attention is focused on the race to the White House, but hundreds of elected positions are being filled in this election, from the President, to the United States Congress, to Governors’ offices, State houses, and school boards.

An increasingly radicalised Republican party has a number of dangerous candidates running on its party line, while across the aisle there are also a number of candidates offering a beacon of hope whose election – or re-election – will be a cause of celebration.

JO RAE PERKINS (OREGON) Jo Rae Perkins stands little chance of unseating the popular Democratic incumbent. She has promoted the far right QAnon conspiracy, suggested that the number of deaths from Coronavirus in the US has been faked to damage Donald Trump’s re-election chances. After winning the nomination for the GOP, she told supporters at a rally: “As we Q people like to say, ‘Where we go one, we go all.’”

MIKE CARGILE (CALIFORNIA) Running for the GOP in the CA-35 district, Cargile has a history of racist and Islamophobic social media posts, including using the N-word, and claiming that Muslims are in league with terrorist groups. He has also promoted the far right QAnon conspiracy theory, including posting the QAnon #WWG1WGA slogan.

LAUREN BOEBERT (COLORADO) Boebert, who is running in the Third District of Colorado, is a rabid “guns rights” activist, and is opposed to abortion. On the QAnon conspiracy theory, Boebert said, “hope that this is real because it only means that America is getting stronger and better, and people are returning to conservative values.”

MARK KELLY (ARIZONA) Mark Kelly has an easy campaign platform to run on: he’s been to outer space. Kelly served as US Navy captain before entering politics following the attempted murder of his wife, Rep Gabby Giffords. The mass-shooting, in which several people attending an event with Giffords died, prompted Kelly to become an outspoken opponent of gun violence.

SHARICE DAVIDS (KANSAS) Davids was elected to the House of Representatives as one of the first Native Americans in Congress ever and the first LGBT representative to congress from Kansas.

GINA ORTIZ JONES (TEXAS) Gina Ortiz Jones has an inspiring backstory, having served as a lesbian woman in the military during the time of the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy which forced LGBT servicemen and women to keep their sexuality secret. Despite the risks, Ortiz Jones rose through the ranks as a fierce leader. She is a great campaigner, and Democrats hope she will pick up this increasingly marginal seat.

CANDACE VALENZUELA (TEXAS) Candace Valenzuela was homeless as a kid. Her school meant so much to her that she ran for the school board when she grew up. She is running an inspiring campaign in this seat, which covers some of the outskirts of Dallas, in what is traditionally a heavily Republican area. The daughter of a Mexican American mother and a Black father, Valenzuela is running to be the first Afro Latina elected to Congress.

RITCHIE TORRES (NEW YORK) The 15th District of New York is a safe Democratic seat, which meant the Primary election earlier this year was the key contest. In that election, Torres, a Black and gay city council member was up against a conservative, homophobic and pro-Trump Democrat with deep roots in the seat. His background in anti-gun violence campaigning and in support workers rights for people in the gig economy make him one to watch in the House next year.

JAMAAL BOWMAN (NEW YORK) Jamaal Bowman is another new candidate for a safe Democrat congressional seat in New York. He was a middle school headteacher when he was inspired to run by the election of Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez in the neighbouring seat. He describes his platform as “anti-poverty and anti-racist”.

CORI BUSH (MISSOURI) Cori Bush is an activist from St. Louis who helped to lead the Ferguson protests following the police killing of a local man. After ousting a long-standing centrist Democrat in a hard fought primary election, she’s now running to be the first Black woman to represent Missouri in Congress.

LAURA LOOMER (FLORIDA) Probably the most high profile far right candidate in this election, other than the President himself. Loomer has a background as a well known alt-right YouTuber, infamous for wild publicity stunts, including disrupting a recital of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar over allegations that the play was promoting violence against Trump. Loomer describes herself as a nationalist, has continually promoted anti-Muslim views, and has raised money for far right and Islamophobic organisations.

LAUREN WITZKE (DELAWARE) While Witzke has little to no chance of winning a Senate seat from this deep blue state, her candidacy has provided a platform for her far right, Christian nationalist views. She has promoted the far right QAnon conspiracy, and told sitting Senator Chris Coons, “I’m coming for your seat, satanist.”

JAIME HARRISON (SOUTH CAROLINA) Jaime Harrison had lit up the Senate race in South Carolina with stunning poll results showing him neck-and-neck with incumbent and key Trump-ally Lindsay Graham after inspiring people across the country with his own humble and hopeful campaign message.

LUCY MCBATH (GEORGIA) McBath has an incredibly powerful and painful story: when her son was murdered, she left her job and became an outspoken gun violence activist. Five years later she ran for the House seat once held by Newt Gingrich and won. She’s now defending the seat.

MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (GEORGIA) Greene, who is running for this safe Republican seat in Georgia 14th District, has a history making racist remarks, especially aimed at Muslims. She has also promoted antisemitic conspiracy theories, as well as the far right QAnon conspiracy.

ANGELA STANTON (GEORGIA) Stanton is seeking to represent the Congressional 5th District that was held by civil rights hero John Lewis, but holds views that were an anathema to him. She has promoted the far right QAnon conspiracy and defended Donald Trump from accusations of racism. She is an outspoken homophobe, accusing the LGBTQ community of paedophilia.

KELLY LOEFFLER (GEORGIA) The only sitting elected politician on this list, Loeffler has been the Senator from Georgia since being appointed to the seat in 2019. Loeffler has claimed that she is “more conservative than Attila the Hun” in a campaign ad widely called racist, and has been photographed alongside members of far-right militias.


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