By Briana Brady, Opinion Editor–
Early voting begins tomorrow, and by now I cannot imagine anyone still considering themselves an undecided voter in the most vital election of this generation, perhaps even of our lifetime: the Presidential election. But other extremely important races are also on the ballot in Southern states nearby: Jaime Harrison, Amy McGrath, and Marquita Bradshaw are all three Democrats running for coveted Senate seats in this election, too. Voting knowledgeably beyond the Presidential ticket is extremely important because local, state, and Congressional leaders have equal or greater impact on our day-to-day lives than the Presidency does. And you all know by now how strongly I feel about the importance of that race.
Three politicians in the South have been on my radar for this election cycle, and I hope that if you are voting in either South Carolina, Kentucky, or Tennessee (as well as any other state), you’ll do everything you can to seal the deal for these progressive candidates in their respective races.
Jaime Harrison, South Carolinian Senate candidate, has just recently made national headlines by raising the highest quarterly fundraising total for any Senate candidate in the history of the United States: a massive $57 million to use in his race for Lindsay Graham’s Senate seat. His fundraising income, along with the polling traction he has made, has proven he is truly a viable candidate. South Carolina has not elected a Democratic Senator in over 20 years, and Lindsay Graham expressed concern about his financial lag in relation Harrison on Fox News, a sure sign that he is feeling the pressure Harrison is applying.
Amy McGrath’s victory in Kentucky would mean that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a massive hypocrite and spineless, longtime Senator, would be replaced. Moreover, his loss would indicate that the power dynamics which hinder so much of the bipartisan legislation in the Senate would have the potential to restructured. Ironically, at 13, McGrath sought to be a fighter pilot but learned women could not yet serve in military combat. She wrote her Senator at the time, Mitch McConnell, and never heard back; now, over 30 years later, she is running to unseat him. Also a mom, McGrath offers a stark contrast to McConnell and is the first serious competitor to challenge him. Her fundraising totals have also had a massive impact on her ability to campaign so strongly.
Finally, Marquita Bradshaw has made a strong effort to turn a Tennessee Senate Seat blue, but she has a hard fight still ahead of her. Running against Bill Hagerty, whose signs are at just about every corner in Chattanooga, she offers such a stark contrast to the conservatism so typical of Tennessee. Deeply concerned with environmental justice, Bradshaw is a true grassroots politician who won the Democratic nomination on fundraising dollars that were next-to-nothing and by mobilizing the otherwise politically disengaged. She is from humble roots and has experiences many of the same plights that average Tennesseans do, including job loss and student debt. Because her race isn’t as close due in large part to fundraising discrepancies and deep red portions of Tennessee only furthered by gerrymandering, she hasn’t gained the national attention that Harrison and McGrath have. However, if urban areas of Tennessee and young voters turn out to vote, she may have more of a chance than the polls are giving her.
All in all, if Harrison, McGrath, and Bradshaw can win their races, they will account for three of the four seats needed to overturn the Senate majority. And if Biden secures the Presidency, those three seats alone plus the Vice Presidential tie-breaking vote would be enough to secure a Senate majority, too. Not only would a Democratic Senate be absolutely integral for the any hopes of a progressive Supreme Court in the future, but it would also ensure that laws can be passed on needed gun reform, healthcare, and climate change issues: problems that peril countless Americans on a daily basis.
So, when you go to the polls, make sure you’re informed about the elections in which you’re voting. Local, state, Congressional, and Presidential elections all have significant effects on our daily lives as citizens in this country, and together, we can vote in the change we wish to see!