It looks like the sleeping giant is finally awakening. Throughout the nation, Sanders Democrats, A.K.A. “Berniecrats,” are winning local and statewide elections. Throughout his campaign, Sanders has called for a political revolution, the kind of revolution that inspires people to run for office and inspires others to vote for them.
In Nevada, prominent Sanders Democrat Lucy Flores did lose her bid for the Democratic nomination for Congressional District 4 against Ruben Kihuen. However, Kihuen has a similar platform to Bernie Sanders, which includes a $15 minimum wage, addressing Wall Street corruption and wealth inequality, and criminal justice reform. His win is not necessarily a loss for Sanders Democrats.
In Washington, D.C., two Sanders Democrats beat out corporate-sponsored incumbents. Robert White and Trayon White both faced uphill battles against well-funded opponents, so their primary victories are significant for residents. On Reddit, user scene_missing expressed happiness with the results of Robert White’s win.
“Ward 5 (Northeast DC) voter here. It was so nice to see Vincent Orange lose office. He’s ‘The Wire’ level corrupt, and really was only around to sell influence and collect a check.”
— Vanessa Williams (@williamsvanessa) June 15, 2016
In the state of Maine, more than two dozen Sanders Democrats won state primary races and will advance to general elections in the fall. Several of these Berniecrats already hold office and had previously endorsed Bernie Sanders. According to the Progressive Brief, Ben Chipman and Justin Chenette are both currently members of the Maine State House of Representatives. Chenette is looking for a state senate seat and won his primary against Barry Hobbins with 56 percent of the vote.
In the state of California, the race has been tougher for Berniecrats. A total of 52 Sanders Democrats are running, or have run for state, city, and federal elections. Out of those, only nine candidates won their primaries. Another seven contests have not yet been decided.
Even in heavily red states like South Carolina and Georgia, Sanders Democrats are winning. Vincent Fort, an incumbent state senator for the 39th district, won his primary election. He came out in vocal support of Bernie Sanders earlier in the primary season. Two other Berniecrats also won their primaries in Georgia: Michelle Jones and Justin Holmback. All three will fight it out against their Republican opponents in November.
— Walter Deleon (@WalterDeleonDC) June 15, 2016
In Illinois, three out of seven Sanders Democrats won their primary contests. Two of these are incumbents and previously endorsed Bernie. And in Montana, Berniecrat Amanda Curtis won her primary for state representative for the 74th District.
In Texas, all four Sanders Democrats running won their primary races: Bill Matta, Tom Wakely, John Floyd, and Alex Mendoza. Although Texas is a reliably red state, more and more people are voting for progressive ideals. And with Tea Party politicians like Ted Cruz very publicly crashing and burning, it may give voters hope that Democrats will have a bigger presence in the Lone Star State’s local and federal politics.
Critics may argue that Bernie Sanders should not get so much credit for progressives winning so many primary races. In the District of Columbia, for example, several of the council members were already widely reviled by citizens. However, his campaign has certainly given progressives more strength and courage not only to run against well-financed opponents, but to also vote for them.
Nowhere is this more visible than in the Democratic race for Florida’s 23rd Congressional District. Democrat Tim Canova, a law and public finance professor with the Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad College of Law, is challenging Democratic National Committee Chairperson Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, who has been sharply criticized by both Canova and Bernie Sanders.
Canova has long been a critic of Wall Street, and in 2011, he actively participated in the Occupy Wall Street movement. According to his website, he is critical of corporate money in politics and “is a strong advocate for programs to help students, working families, and lower- and middle-income folks.”
In late May, Canova received an official endorsement from Sanders, which resulted in a surge in political donations. In just a few days, Canova raised more than $250,000 to finance his campaign against what voters see as a corrupt establishment Democrat. On August 30, his campaign will be put to the test, when voters head to the polls in non-presidential primary elections.
Bernie Sanders is single-handedly changing the face of the Democratic Party. He has given a voice and courage to people who have given up on the political process. People who never considered running for office have taken up the banner for progressive issues, and more Democrats — and even independents — are jumping in to fight to get big money out of politics.
Slowly but surely Americans can win back our country if we, as Sanders says, work together to make it happen. Establishment Democrats may hold most of the power now, but that could change within the next few years.
[Photo by Cliff Owen/AP Images]