Democrats Are Running for Office in Red Districts in Record Numbers

Liberals are excited about a potential “blue wave” in the upcoming November elections, but upsets can only happen if there are Democratic candidates  to oppose the Republican incumbents. The good news is that liberals are deciding to take a chance and run against Republicans – even in deep-red districts – in record numbers.

For years, Democrats have perceived certain regions as unwinnable. And they’ve declined to field or financially support candidates there, focusing their energy and resources on places that seemed more competitive. With a contagious anti-Donald Trump sentiment taking hold of the nation, however, suddenly everywhere is starting to look like a tight race.

Mother Jones gives some examples of red states with actual challenges from Democrats:

  • Kentucky Democrats haven’t participated in so many state legislative districts (93/100) in 34 years.
  • Alabama has Democrats running in all seven congressional districts, a feat the state hasn’t seen in over two decades.
  • Texas has twice as many Democrats in state house district races as it did just two years ago.
  • Indiana has more Democrats running for state seats since before the year 2000.

The trend coincides with a record number of women running for public office, which makes a lot of sense when you consider that the vast majority of those women are not running as Republicans.

There’s plenty of reason for Democrats running in conservative areas to maintain hope that their bids may be successful. As we saw most famously when Senator Doug Jones beat conservative Roy Moore in Alabama, Democrats have been flipping strong red seats in their favor in special elections. FiveThirtyEight calculates that “Democrats have outperformed the partisan lean in 74 percent of these races.”

Just this week, we saw that this momentum continues to thrive when Kentucky State Representative Linda Belcher  won 68 percent of the vote in a district that elected Trump with 72 percent of the vote. There’s no way to understate what a major turnabout that is, and the outcome shows that even Republican strongholds can’t be taken for granted in the current political climate.

Rather than preemptively conceding races they’ll need to flip the U.S. House and state legislatures, Democrats are finally on track and putting themselves in races they probably would have sat out in recent years. While it’s safe to say that not all Democratic challengers will come out on top, like the old lottery slogan goes, “You can’t win if you don’t play.”

Democrats are putting themselves in a position to give discontented voters a chance to change course, and the time has never been better for the left to challenge every damn seat.

Photo Credit: Phil Roeder/Flickr

48 comments

Marie W
Marie W1 months ago

tks for sharing

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Angela G
Angela G7 months ago

good luck

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Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld7 months ago

Karen H.,
We have the same thing here in Michigan. Some people walk into the booth, looking for that donkey or elephant lever. They know very little about the actual candidates.

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Karen H
Karen H7 months ago

Cruel Justice, I live in Florida, too, and I think the upcoming elections will be a lot different. Young people have had enough of the lies. They've seen how our politicians only offer "thoughts and prayers" rather than work to find solutions. What's sad are the people who vote for their party rather than the individual candidates. Someone I know very well calls himself "a staunch Republican", and he will vote for a candidate simply because that candidate is Republican.

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Brian F
Brian F7 months ago

Vasu Murti Third party candidates do stand a chance if everyone votes for them. Both of our two parties are corrupt, and corporate owned. If everyone voted for Jill Stein and the Green party, Jill Stein could force the other two corrupt corporate owned parties to end their corruption and start supporting progressive policies that we desperately need in this country, like Medicare for all, marijuana legalization, free colleges, and a $15.00 an hour minimum wage. The Democrats are corrupt like the Republicans, and they will never change. We can only change our corrupt two party system, by voting for Jill Stein, and forcing a third party. A third party would give voters an opportunity to vote for an honest candidate, Jill Stein, instead of the corporate war mongering shills that are forced on us by both corrupt corporate owned parties.

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Vasu Murti
Vasu Murti7 months ago

In 2004, on the Democrats For Life email list, Jay Ware, a black Democrat out of Illinois, pointed out that the Republican Party supports its pro-choice candidates like Rudy Giuliani and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the Republican president, George W. Bush, even campaigns on their behalf, etc.

Jay said the Democratic Party should do likewise with pro-life Democrats, especially in red states, where pro-choicers can't win.

The Democratic Party platform should support: Animal Rights, Defending the Affordable Care Act, Ending Citizens United, Ending Marijuana Prohibition, Giving Greater Visibility to Pro-Life Democrats, Gun Control, Net Neutrality, Raising the Minimum Wage to $15 an Hour, Responding to the Scientific Consensus on Global Warming, and a Sustainable Energy Policy.

Democrats for Life of America, 10521 Judicial Drive, #200, Fairfax, VA 22030, (703) 424-6663

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Vasu Murti
Vasu Murti7 months ago

In 2016, I met an attractive young black woman, perhaps in her thirties, a teacher, and she told me she was voting for Green Party candidate Jill Stein over Hillary Clinton, despite her friends telling her she'd be throwing her vote away.

I said with amusement, the United States isn't Canada. All other Western democracies, including Canada, are multi-party democracies. The only Western democracy with a two-party majority is the United States. And in the U.S., the right and the left aren't that far apart!

This has meant stable institutions: whereas Italy has gone through over a hundred different governments since the end of World War II, our system of government has stood the test of time.

On the other hand, it means change happens slowly! I'm a pro-life Democrat, sympathetic to some Green Party positions, but I realize the only way to see them implemented is by being a Democrat.

Third party candidates don’t stand a chance – Look at what happened to Ralph Nader!

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Vasu Murti
Vasu Murti7 months ago

According to 2011 data from the Center for Responsive Politics, the Democrats are nearly as "corporate" as the Republicans:

The median personal wealth for members of Congress grew to $911,510 in 2009, up from $785,515 in 2008, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Nearly half of the members of Congress are millionaires.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, there were 261
millionaires in Congress in 2011. The top ten list included:

Darrell Issa, Jane Harmon, John Kerry, Mark Warner, Jared Polis, Herb Kohl, Vern Buchanan, Michael McCaul, Jay Rockefeller, and Dianne Feinstein.

Not only are the Democrats are nearly as corporate as Republicans, they package themselves as "Republican lite" or centrists every election year. The right and the left aren’t that different from each other in American politics. Things might be different if the United States were a multi-party democracy, like Canada.

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Brian F
Brian F7 months ago

Most of the Democrats like Diane Feinstein, are rich and refusing to support Medicare for all, or marijuana legalization, because they corrupt like the Republicans, so we need a third party. I'm supporting Jill Stein. By establishing a third party, we could force both corrupt corporate owned parties to move to the left on issues. Simply voting for the Democrats as the lesser of the two evils, still gives us evil.

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Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld7 months ago

Joan E.,
I think the complacency last time was caused by the candidates at the top of the ticket. We will see if we the candidates this year spark more enthusiasm.

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