“Absolutely I can beat him,” Mallory Hagan says without hesitation about her opponent Mike Rogers, the NRA-endorsed Republican who cheerleads Trump on almost every issue.
In November the 29-year-old, who recently won the Democratic nomination for Congress in Alabama’s 3rd District, will face off with 59-year-old Rogers, who has held his seat since 2003 (the year Hagan entered high school).
The odds are not exactly in her favor. Alabama’s 3rd Congressional District, located in the Eastern part of the state, has elected Rogers over various Democratic opponents eight times, often giving him two-thirds of the vote. The vast majority of its counties voted for Trump in 2016, although it also includes Macon County (82.7% Clinton), with its county seat of Tuskegee, a cultural hub of African-American history.
But it’s a different kind of year, with a different kind of energy. A record-breaking number of women, many of them young and women of color, are running for U.S. House and Senate races this year, and Democratic women are winning in states like Virginia, where they dominated the primaries on Tuesday. “America is hungry for female Democratic leadership, and women are rising up across the country to deliver it,” Elizabeth Renda, the DNC’s women’s media director, tells Refinery29. “In a country where the attorney general denies asylum to victims of domestic violence, where the administration puts an essential ‘gag rule’ on Title X funding, where the president fights to allow insurers to deny health coverage to Americans with pre-existing conditions — now more than ever, we need their leadership.”
Plus, Hagan has a not-so-secret weapon: the youths. While the 18 to 25 demographic historically has the lowest turnout, with this year’s voter outreach efforts from March for Our Lives and other grassroots groups, a youth quake appears to be coming. Plus, you have to give young people someone to vote for, says Hagan — and that’s exactly what she and other young candidates like 28-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are doing.
“It speaks to the fact that the two-party system is not working — it’s my hope that our generation will be the generation that figures out a different way,” Hagan says. “It’s so exciting to be so young in politics. This year, I’m seeing so many other young people running — we need young people to get involved in their communities and in politics, because we need those voices at the table.”
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