Donald Trump won the presidential election in 2016, and huge numbers of women came out to protest in Washington, D.C. and across the country. They did not quit, resulting in hundreds of women entering political races — from the local school boards to the U.S. Senate. That scene just played out in an unusual Democratic primary.
The woman who entered the primary for the 2nd District House seat was Kara Eastman. She went up against a former representative, Brad Ashford, and the race was on.
She was ahead, then he was ahead. She was ahead again, and the two Democrats traded places all night.
Ashford was the obvious lead, because people knew his name from decades of public service, and he had the Democratic party behind him. Not only that, interest groups and others filled his campaign coffers.
On the other hand, Eastman was carried forward on an enthusiastic grass-root campaign. Without name recognition, she had to earn her votes one-by-one, one door knock after another. Yard signs with her name on them popped up like spring flowers in people’s lawns.
She was the candidate of the people, not the old Democratic party. The Omaha World-Herald reported Eastman said:
‘People need health care. They deserve health care. Income inequality is outrageous and we need to address it because there’s far too many people living in poverty and struggling.’
Ashford went the traditional Democratic route that failed to carry Hillary Clinton into the Oval Office in 2016. He was a moderate in a field of bipartisan cooperation.
He said his goal for running in 2014 was to fund a new VA hospital in Omaha:
‘I wanted to go back because I thought there’s more work that we could do for Omaha, for the district, for the state, but when I reflect upon it maybe it was just meant to be. My role was to go back and bring the donor community and the VA together and we did it.’
Eastman pushed for single payer Medicare for all, a $15 minimum wage, and higher corporate taxes. Her voters wanted Donald Trump and the Republicans voted out of office.
After an evening of tag, Eastman’s lead finally became insurmountable. She won with an 1,126-vote lead.
The Democratic winner said she decided to run after she saw her mother’s fight against cancer:
‘I am probably very visibly humbled and honored to accept the Democratic nomination. My mom taught me to be strong, to speak up and to fight, And she taught me to fight for people. I know that she would be really proud of me today.’
Ashford made his call to concede the election to her, then texted his support:
‘Kara great job. You have my full support. I did try and call.’
The former representative said:
‘When I left Washington a year and a half ago I thought I saw some glimmers of hope, but it’s gotten much, much worse. It’s incredibly toxic.’
In November, Eastman will go up against the man who beat Ashford in 2016, Don Bacon.
Featured Image via Newsweek