Claremont College Students are Leading Their Candidates to Success in the Midterm

Ittai Sopher PZ ’19

For Claire Wengrod PZ ’19 the midterm campaign trail is where her expertise is most valued. An outspoken member of Pitzer student senate and a political studies major, Wengrod found herself playing political arena on the national level and was tasked with making major campaign decisions.

“When we were making decisions about what our campaign was going to do.” Wengrod said.“I had equal voice as a staff member in making those decisions,”  

If elected in November, Haaland will become the first Native American woman to serve in Congress. This victory would be especially historic for the state of New Mexico, since, according to the most recent census, more than ten percent of New Mexicans are Native American: “I’m Deb Haaland and Congress has never heard a voice like mine,” is one of her campaign slogans.

Access to campaign staff and candidates that are more representative of the population are a major theme of this year’s Democratic midterms. In April, The New York Times reported that 40 percent of campaign managers for Democratic congressional candidates are women, compared to a 2010 midterm study where those numbers were “too small to be statistically reliable.” On top of that, 66 women ran in House races this year, and more than half of these candidates won their primary campaigns.  

“The candidates themselves are very inspiring,” Harper Mills ’19 said of the Democratic candidates in primary races. “Their stories and values really resonated with young people.”

This summer, Mills worked on a campaign hyper-focused on increasing participation and turnout for the midterms. Josh Zakim, the  candidate for Massachusetts secretary of state, endorsed same-day voting legislation and weekend voting measures.

“We have a ridiculously large student population; a lot of them have been disengaged from the political process,” Mills said.

Although Zakim lost his primary to the incumbent secretary of state, Mills plans on canvassing in upcoming general election races near Claremont, citing canvassing as her primary motivation.

“Canvassing is where it’s at,” Mills said.“Despite the fact that my work is really stressful and tiring, I just felt I had an optimistic view of the world when I was doing it.”

This semester, Mills has continued campaigning for progressive candidates. This weekend Mills, her friends, and other students went to Upland to campaign for city council candidate Irmalinda Osuna.

“Students are understanding more that the long journey of getting to a political system and situation in our country that we can believe in is not just about the presidential election,”  Mills said. “It’s about the midterms, it’s about the down-ballot races, it’s about super local nitty gritty stuff that people normally don’t think about.”

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