A new generation of candidates claim the future of the Democratic Party | Democrats

OIt’s the early hours of Wednesday morning, November 6, 2024, and after a biting night, two men are about to deliver their respective victory and concession speeches in the US presidential election. One of the men is days away from his 82nd birthday, the other is 78.

The prospect of a possible rematch between Joe Biden and Donald Trump in two years is causing concern from both major parties. It is not just the political perils that accompany either individual, it is also the simple matter of their age.

What happened to America again world, the young country?

But in the wake of this week’s midterm elections, there is unrest in the air. The Democratic Party may remain heavily dominated by the old guard — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, 82, and top senator Chuck Schumer, 69 — but there are strong signs of new beginnings.

From the first openly lesbian governors in the United States and the first black governor in Maryland, to the first Gen Z member of Congress, as well as young, battle-hardened politicians in critical states like Michigan and Pennsylvania, a new list of Democratic leaders come into view after Tuesday’s election. They may be too new to reshape the 2024 presidential race, but they hold great promise for years to come.

“There’s a generational shift of the kind you see every few decades,” said Joe Trippi, a Democratic strategist who has worked on state and congressional campaigns. “A younger generation is emerging with different ideas that aren’t necessarily tied to the old way of doing things.”

It is perhaps no coincidence that several of the attention-grabbing names are in battleground states where their political skills and resilience have been tested. In Michigan, which has emerged as a frontline state in the struggle between liberal politics and Maga politics, Gretchen Whitmer easily won double-digit re-election in her gubernatorial race against Tudor Dixon, an election denier.

Whitmer, 51, has proven not only adept at fending off election subversion misinformation in a Midwestern state, but she’s also withstood the pressures of the kidnapping plot against her that led to the conviction last month of three anti-government plotters. “After two terms as governor, Whitmer will be well positioned to step onto the national stage,” Trippi said.

Gretchen Whitmer celebrates her re-election as Governor of Michigan alongside Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist. Photograph: Rebecca Cook/Reuters

Another fertile ground for new Democratic leaders is Pennsylvania, which has also been on the front lines of the Maga wars. John Fetterman, 53, has been widely written off by conservative pundits after his televised debate in the race for a US Senate seat with his Trump-endorsed opponent Mehmet Oz, who ridiculed him for his speech impediment caused by a stroke in May that nearly killed him.

Fetterman survived all that opprobrium to frame a classic Pennsylvania story: his rise from small-town mayor to elected U.S. senator. He still has a mountain to climb in his physical recovery, but he is clearly now a fixture in national politics.

Pennsylvania has spawned other new Democratic faces to watch: Josh Shapiro, 49, became the Commonwealth’s governor-elect, successfully mobilizing voters by warning of the threat to democracy posed by his election-denying opponent.

Then there’s Summer Lee, 34, the first black woman to be sent to Congress by the state. “We fought, we built coalitions, we brought people together,” she said at her victory party.

The new generation contains a striking proportion of prominent African-American politicians. A record number of black women and men are running for office in 2022, and the impact is starting to be felt.

The Pac Collective, which aims to increase black representation in elected office, has endorsed 252 black candidates across the country this cycle. He has injected more than $1 million in support of these campaigns, with 117 wins to date.

“We are seeing a new wave of ordinary people who are bringing their lived experiences to the table and becoming decision makers in their communities by holding public office. It’s here to stay,” said Stephanie Brown James, Co-Founder and Senior Advisor to The Collective.

For James, one of the key qualities of the next generation of black leaders is that many of them are first-time candidates with no prior political experience. That goes for Wes Moore, 43, set to become Maryland’s first African-American governor, a Rhodes Scholar whose career has ranged from investment banker and television producer to head of the Robin Hood Foundation to purpose. anti-poverty nonprofit.

Summer Lee, 34, left, won congressional elections in southwestern Pennsylvania.
Summer Lee, 34, left, won congressional elections in southwestern Pennsylvania. Photography: Quinn Glabicki/Reuters

“Wes Moore, Summer Lee — they have real-world experiences that will go a long way toward the policy dialogue needed to help people move forward,” James said.

Some of the most eagerly watched black politicians fell to the polls this week, including Stacey Abrams, 48, in the race for governor of Georgia and Mandela Barnes, 35, candidate for a seat in the United States Senate in the Wisconsin. However, neither should be struck off, given the excitement they brought to their contests and the extent to which they transformed their states by increasing Democratic turnout.

Across the country, other stars are rising. Gavin Newsom found his re-election as Governor of California a breeze on Tuesday night, which bodes well as he decides to indulge in national ambitions.

Maura Healey in Massachusetts and Tina Kotek in Oregon will share the distinction of becoming their states’ first openly lesbian governors.

Newsom, Healey and Kotek are all in their 50s. But they better watch their backs – a much younger cohort is on the move.

Maxwell Frost, an Afro-Cuban progressive from Florida, was elected Tuesday night as the first Gen Z member of Congress.

He is 25 years old. Election law prohibits anyone from running for president before the age of 35 – which is pretty good for Frost, who will turn 35 in the 2032 presidential election.

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