One final thought on last Tuesday before I move on to the legislative and issue-based phase of the project:
A lot was made about how this year was a victory for candidates who supported gun regulation, and that is undeniably true. Gun safety was cited as the most important issue facing the country by more than one in ten Americans, and that group voted overwhelmingly Democratic.
But to me, one of the most striking thing about gun safety voters is how clearly they want one thing - authenticity. Not only did they reject "A" rated NRA candidates in favor of those with "F"s, but they also easily navigated the grey area in between.
Specifically, they rejected the two Trojan Horses of the cycle - Leonard Lance and Carlos Curbelo. These were two politicians with histories of being on the same side as the gun lobby. Both had received A ratings in the past (Lance an A+) and money from the National Rifle Association. Both made promises to national gun safety organizations that led to highly questionable endorsements and an uncomfortable situation where a group dedicated to improving gun laws was funding a Republican incumbent against the daughter of a victim of gun violence.
But voters saw through it. They showed that they would rather have the real deal than a cheap knockoff. That an organization's desire to reach out and grab for bipartisan cred is less important than to them than the ISSUE itself. In the long term, when it comes to gun violence and efforts to do something about it, that may be the longest-lasting win of 2018, and the clearest message to future candidates.
If you are running for legislative office - especially as a Democrat - gun violence is a front-burner issue. The days where you can hope not to be asked about it, or avoid it, or keep it off your website in the hopes that your opponent doesn't use it against you... those days are over. The future belongs to smart, savvy, brave candidates who put their flag in the ground and say what they believe - not what they think we want to hear.
I'm incredibly proud to have profiled hundreds of those candidates this year, and happy to report that - with votes still being counted - more than 70 of these men and women will take their seats in state legislative bodies across the country. They are the model for how we win, not only at the ballot box, but where it counts the most.