Wednesday, November 07, 2018

22-Year Old Georgetown University Grad Will Haskell Wins State Senate Seat. (Hartford Courant, Washington Post, The Hoya, The Voice and Time Magazine)

Three cheers for Will Haskell, Government major and French minor, who graduated earlier this year and defeated a 22-year incumbent.  At one door, the lady of the house spoke only French, allowing Will to win her vote in fluent French.  Articles from Hartford Courant, Washington Post, Time Magazine and Georgetown's two student newspapers, the Hoya and The Voice.

Hoya Saxa, Senator Haskell!  My alma mater, Georgetown University, has sent forth another leader, part of our tradition since 1789.

From the Hartford Courant:

22-Year-Old Democrat Will Haskell Defeats Popular Republican Toni Boucher, Winning Her Long-Held Senate Seat

Kathleen McWilliams
Officials say Democrat Will Haskell, a 22-year-old Georgetown graduate, claimed victory Tuesday night over Toni Boucher in the 26th Senate District.
“I wrote two speeches tonight and I am so happy I’m giving this one,” he said. “This campaign started with the crazy idea to challenge someone who has been in Hartford as long as I’ve been alive. Every generation deserves a seat at the table and no one is entitled to another term because they’ve been there a long time.”
Haskell faced a monumental challenge in defeating Boucher, a popular moderate Republican from Wilton. The seat has been held by Republicans since the 1970s, though Hillary Clintonwon the district by 22 percentage points in 2016.
“He outworked his opponent,” Westport democratic town committee chair Ellen Lautenberg said.

Haskell’s campaign got a boost when he was endorsed by former President Barack Obama. He also was endorsed by Sen. Chris Murphy and state Rep. Jim Himes.
Haskell ran an extensive ground campaign, hosting more than 120 meet-and-greets and knocking on thousands of doors in the district, which encompasses Westport, Weston, Wilton, Ridgefield, Redding, Bethel and New Caanan.

Haskell, a 2014 graduate of Staples High School, graduated from Georgetown University in May after launching his campaign in March. He had planned to go to law school, but was inspired to run by President Donald Trump’s election win and his love of government.
“There’s so much at stake,” he said, “especially for young people. It’s Hartford’s job to defend residents from the administration.”
Boucher has served in the legislature for as long as Haskell has been alive. She has held the state Senate seat since 2008. She toyed with a run for governor this year, but decided to pursue another term in the state Senate instead.
Boucher is a leader among Republicans at the state Capitol, co-chairing the education and transportation committees. Her moderate stance on social issues and her fiscal conservatism have made her an attractive candidate for Fairfield County, an area of Connecticut that typically votes Republican locally and Democratic during national elections.

Boucher’s district gave Hillary Clinton a 22 percent victory in the presidential race in 2016, a strong indication that moderate Republicans in the district were shifting more to the left.
“The Republican Party of this district is the party of George H.W. Bush,” Haskell said. “My grandparents were those kind of Republicans, but the Connecticut Republican Party has really thrown its arms around Trump and forgotten the values of compassion, conservatism and fiscal responsibility.”

During his campaign, Haskell said he hoped that the voting trends would help him. He supported tolls to raise revenue for infrastructure and transportation and supported tougher gun laws.
“There are people who actually think the next generation’s voice [doesn’t] matter,” Haskell said in an interview before the election. “Age is just a number, You don’t need 22 years of experience to know kids need to feel safe in school. ”

From The Washington Post:

‘My former intern won Connecticut’: 22-year-old wins state Senate seat
A 22-year-old Georgetown University graduate has defeated a Republican incumbent to win a seat in the Connecticut state Senate.
Will Haskell, who announced his candidacy during his senior year of college, ran on a platform of toll roads and tougher gun control, according to the Hartford Courant.
He defeated Toni Boucher, a Republican who has been serving in the state legislature since 1997 — almost as long as Haskell has been alive.
Before running for office, Haskell worked in campaigns with Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Hillary Clinton, according to New Canaan News. Haskell was endorsed by former president Barack Obama and Sen. Chris Murphy (D).
Haskell touted his lack of experience as a benefit, telling New Canaan News that “years of bad experience is worse than no experience.” Regarding gun control, Haskell told the Courant that “you don’t need 22 years of experience to know kids need to feel safe in school.”
Results are still rolling in, but Haskell’s victory could help Democrats claim a majority in the Connecticut Senate, where control is evenly split 18-18 between Republicans and Democrats. (The Connecticut Mirror reports that Democrats picked up three state Senate seats; the Courant shows Democrats need three more seats to win a majority.)
Haskel told the Mirror that former president Barack Obama’s farewell speech inspired him to seek office.
It was a light bulb moment for Haskell when he heard Obama say, “If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself.” Those words are even inscribed at his campaign office, a recently shuttered local Chinese restaurant with no heat where he works alongside high school volunteers.
Before he ran for office, Haskell was an intern at Business Insider, and he had been published in the Cut.
His former boss and colleague celebrated his victory.


From The Georgetown Hoya:

With only two months left in his undergraduate career, Will Haskell (COL ’18) has set his sights on an ambitious new job: Connecticut state senator.
Haskell declared his intent to run as a Democrat for the state Senate seat March 1. A member of the Georgetown Chimes a capella group and the director of personnel at Hoya Snaxa, the Students of Georgetown, Inc. convenience store, Haskell intends to defer his plans to attend law school at the Georgetown University Law Center to campaign before the election Nov. 6.
Haskell said he was galvanized to run for office by the election of President Donald Trump in 2016.
“This is a moment when our fundamental values — equality, justice, respect — they seemed suddenly, for the first time in my life, up for debate,” Haskell said.
Haskell and his campaign manager, Jack Lynch (COL’ 18), spent spring break campaigning in Connecticut. They plan to visit Connecticut multiple times this spring and intend to canvas the district this summer. (Lynch was formerly a member of The Hoya’s editorial board and a staff writer for The Hoya.)
“I have the time this summer to be a full-time candidate. I’ll be knocking at doors every single day. And I think that really poses an opportunity to make a difference,” Haskell said.

Georgetown undergraduate Will Haskell (COL ’18) campaigned door-to-door over spring break after launching his bid for the Connecticut state senate.

Lynch said his team has prepared a robust strategy for the work they will do while still students.
“In the meantime, we have plenty of work to do from here at Georgetown, including fine-tuning our budget, building our social media platforms, and all sorts of long-term strategy and planning,” Lynch wrote in an email to The Hoya.
Haskell is competing for a seat held by Republican State Senator Toni Boucher since 2008. In the 2016 election, Boucher defeated her Democratic challenger by 20 percentage points, according to Ballotpedia. However, Republicans do not dominate the state government; Connecticut is one of eight states where Democrats control both the legislature and the governorship.
Haskell’s previous political experience includes interning for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, interning in the Capitol Hill offices of Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and researching voter protection laws for the Democratic National Committee.
Haskell acknowledged his age could be perceived as a weakness, especially when contrasted with Boucher’s experience, but said his youth can bring a new perspective.
“Representative democracy ought to be representative, and my generation doesn’t have a voice in the Connecticut State Senate,” Haskell said. “Look, we need new voices. There’s no minimum age for doing the right thing. There’s no minimum age for standing up to President Trump and his agenda. There’s no minimum age for trying to make your community a better place.”
Haskell is not the only young Hoya running in this year’s midterm elections. A recent Georgetown alumna, 26-year-old Democrat Shavonnia Corbin-Johnson (SFS ’14) is running for U.S. Congress in Pennsylvania, and recent graduate Kyle Rinaudo (SFS ’17) is running as a Democrat for the Georgia state House of Representatives.
Boucher announced an exploratory bid for governor in September, according to the Hartford Courant. She participated in a bipartisan gubernatorial debate March 11, but could not debate at the Republican gubernatorial debate Feb. 21 because she had not officially declared her candidacy.
However, Haskell said he expects to run against Boucher in the state Senate race.
“My opponent’s sort of perennially running for governor. She does this every four years. And I think based on previous experiences, she’ll spend some time criss-crossing the state, and then she’ll come back to our district eventually when that doesn’t work out,” Haskell said.
Boucher did not respond to requests for comments as of press time.
Haskell’s policy platform addresses three main areas: strengthening gun control regulations, improving infrastructure and building a more robust economy.
Haskell expressed support for banning bump stocks, cracking down on unregulated gun sales, investing in transportation initiatives like faster trains with Wi-Fi and diversifying Connecticut’s workforce by attracting college graduates with tax credits.
Haskell contrasted his platform with Boucher’s, which he characterized as increasingly right-wing.
“Everyone wants to fight against Donald Trump, right. I do too. He takes up so much political air, so much political space. But the fight against Trump starts at the state and local level,” Haskell said. “Senator Boucher is not in the Oval Office, but she is working to implement his agenda in Connecticut every single day.”
Lynch, who has been roommates with Haskell since freshman year, said he has full confidence in his candidate’s political motives and platform.
“I always knew he had the political talent to succeed in the race, and more importantly, I knew that he had the values that would make me proud to work with him,” Lynch wrote. “It would be easy for a lot of candidates to bow to political pressure, but Will is espousing the same views on the campaign trail that he did years before he was a state senate candidate.”
Initially concerned with raising enough funds for his campaign on time, Haskell said his campaign raised $15,000 three days after announcing his bid March 1.
As of March 13, Haskell’s campaign had raised about $25,000. More than 100 students have donated to his campaign, “which means a lot, because you know and I know students don’t have much money to spare,” Haskell said.
Although he is unsure of his long-term plans apart from eventually attending law school, Haskell confirmed his commitment to his home state.
“I never expected to be running for office right out of school,” Haskell said. “I can tell you this, though: I’m committed to Connecticut in the long term. I think that too many people in Hartford leave. We have too many people in Hartford who are making decisions that will affect Connecticut for decades to come but then won’t be around for that future. I’m a stakeholder in Connecticut’s future. I’ll be there for the good, the bad and the ugly.”
From Georgetown Voice:

Will Haskell Win? Recent Grad Runs for State Senate

Will Haskell Win? Recent Grad Runs For State Senate

By:  and 
After graduating in May, Will Haskell put his plans to attend Georgetown Law School on hold to vie for a seat in the Connecticut State Senate, representing the 26th district. 
“I think like a lot of people, I woke up the morning after Trump’s election and felt like I had to do something, like I had to play some part in fighting against that agenda,” Haskell (COL ’18) said. As a 22-year-old Georgetown student, that meant thinking locally. “I really strongly believe that fight has to start at the state and local level.”
Haskell researched his representatives and discovered that most reflected his views, with one exception. “I came across my state senator, somebody who votes with the Republican party 97 percent of the time, somebody who filibustered to prevent kids with cancer from getting medical marijuana,” he said. “Somebody who actually stood up and said that Connecticut went too far in regulating guns after Sandy Hook, when I felt very strongly that we haven’t gone far enough.” 
That state Senator, Antonietta Boucher, is now Haskell’s opponent. Boucher has held the seat since 2009 and has a long tenure in state politics, including 12 years in the Connecticut House of Representatives. Boucher has publicly defended her record on guns, as she voted for sweeping gun-control legislation in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting and was recognized by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America as a “gun sense” candidate, a distinction Haskell also received. Boucher could not be reached for comment before press time.
Discontented, Haskell wanted to volunteer in support of Boucher’s future opponent, but soon found that the Democrats lacked a challenger for her. “The response I heard was, ‘Oh, you know, she’s been in office for 22 years, she’ll probably be there another 22 years. Nobody runs against her,’” Haskell said.
Haskell decided to do it himself. He felt that letting Boucher run uncontested was bad for the Democratic party and the democratic process. And while Boucher won nearly 60 percent of the vote in the three previous elections, Hillary Clinton won the district by 23 points in 2016. “It’s fundamentally a moderate, level-headed district,” Haskell said. “It’s not Donald Trump territory, so there is no reason we should have a state senator who has embraced Donald Trump’s agenda. That’s a large part of why I decided to run.”
In March, he officially kicked off his campaign from the living room of his Nevils apartment. Haskell and his roommate-turned-campaign manager, Jack Lynch (COL ’18), invited some friends over for the launch party. They received overwhelming support. “We had hoped to raise $300,” Haskell said. “We ended up leaving the night with over $3,000. It was incredible.”
Throughout his campaign, Haskell has used his government degree—and even his French minor. “I was door knocking, there was a lady who spoke only French, and I was able to give my whole stump speech. That made the minor worth it,” he said.
Haskell’s time on the Hilltop prepared him in less traditional ways, too. He believes his four years working at the Corp’s Hoya Snaxa fostered the interpersonal skills vital to a campaign. 
“A lot of that job was just making small talk, just chatting with people as they’re going about their day buying groceries, trying to sort of relate to everybody and just be a friendly face,” Haskell said. “Honestly, that’s a lot like running for office. Going and meeting people, standing at the dump on the weekend, just being a welcoming face, listening to whatever problems they have.”
Lynch wrote in an email to the Voice that the Haskell who people knew during his time on campus is the same one running for office. “The Will Haskell who speaks at campaign events, who knocks on doors, who makes calls to voters, is just as genuine and down to earth as the Will Haskell who worked at Snaxa and ate at Leo’s and went to the Tombs,” Lynch wrote. “That’s a large part of what has made him such a phenomenon in this district over the past few months. Voters can sense when someone is being their authentic self.”
After graduating, Haskell moved back to his district and into an apartment in New Canaan, Connecticut. Still living with his old roommate Lynch, he set about trying to unseat the five-term incumbent with a political career as old as he is. That would be no easy task. Her history of landslide victories in a seat that has been held by Republicans since Richard Nixon was president would be discouraging to most, but Haskell believes that he is different. 
Haskell said that in the last three elections, one challenger did not have a website, and another did not knock on a single door. “She, for the past few cycles, has gone effectively unopposed,” Haskell said. “I’m almost amazed her margins aren’t higher. You’re in office with those opponents, then you should be getting 70, 80 percent of the vote.”
While running for office can be expensive, Haskell has avoided this by publicly financing his campaign. To use public funds, Haskell had to raise $15,000 to give to the state, and in return he received an $85,000 grant. Despite raising over $100,000 in her last three elections, Boucher also opted for public funding this cycle, meaning the candidates will have the same amount of money at their disposal.
On top of public funding, Haskell received additional help—the endorsement of former President Barack Obama. An intern originally suggested that Haskell contact Obama about a potential endorsement.
“I said you know what, maybe we can write him a letter, and then a few weeks later we heard that I was being endorsed, which totally blindsided me. It was so exciting and it is really an honor,” Haskell said. Obama tweeted his endorsement of Haskell on Oct. 1, alongside 259 other candidates for state and federal offices.
Because Connecticut’s Senate is split, Haskell’s race has taken on greater national importance for Democrats, who aim to reclaim state legislatures. “I do think it is less about me, and it comes down to the fact that the state Senate is tied,” Haskell said. “It’s exceptionally exciting, and it’s gotten a lot of people involved and gotten a lot of people interested in this district.”
Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal and Rep. Jim Hines endorsed Haskell, as well as Planned Parenthood, Run for Something, and the National Organization of Women.
But Haskell still needs to win on the ground, and as the campaign found out, that is not always easy. “Campaigns have a steep learning curve, and it’s been even steeper for Will and I as brand new college graduates,” Lynch wrote. “But we set a couple of clear goals early on and stuck to them: We’ve focused on building a really strong ground game and knocked over 4,000 doors.”
Haskell emphasized that he is always trying to reach the voters in the district and has a daily goal to knock on 40 doors. He also has volunteers participating in “days-of-action” on the weekends.
“We’re campaigning constantly and trying to meet people where they are, whether that’s at the train station meeting the commuters or at the doors,” Haskell said. He has a special focus on reaching young people and making sure they vote. “In order to do that and meet those voters where they are, you can’t go to doors, you can’t really call landlines, you have to meet them on their iPhone.”
As a young candidate, Haskell has had his age used against him by some, while other voters do not see it as a negative. At a joint candidates forum, when a Republican candidate for state representative mentioned his recent graduation from college while criticizing Haskell, the audience drowned him out with boos.
Haskell does not see his age as a handicap, but as a reason for running. He feels young people often lack voices of their own in Connecticut’s Senate. “Too often they’re making decisions that are going to impact the state for decades to come,” Haskell said. “Considering taking out additional debt on the state’s credit card, and their doing so without any input, without consulting stakeholders in Connecticut’s future, and I think that’s really problematic.”
Haskell said that young people will not want to move back to Connecticut until the state invests in advancing its cities, bettering its infrastructure, and creating an “exciting” economy. His top priority in attracting young workers to the state is paid family leave.
“I was raised by a single working mom. She had to go back to work just two weeks after I was born, and that’s true for 25 percent of American moms, but it shouldn’t be,” Haskell said. “That’s a choice that no industrialized nation should force their workers, their parents to make.”
Haskell still carries Georgetown with him, both the memory of the outpouring of support when he launched his campaign and the continued help from the community.
“The Georgetown community really rallied in a way that I was so touched by. My professors donated not just their financial contributions but also their time and advice,” Haskell said. “I get emails and calls from professors all the time, ‘Hey, I liked your most recent campaign email’ or ‘Hey, I hated your most recent campaign email.’”
“I have been obsessing for the last few months about how exactly we are going to spend this time between now and election day, and I really am not sure what is in store for me afterwards,” Haskell said. After Nov. 6, Haskell will have either won or lost. But for now, he can only think about the present.
“Somebody asked me that other day what my five-year plan is. I have an 18-day plan.”
From Time Magazine:
November 5, 2018
Campaigns rely on young volunteers to do the legwork needed just before the election. But the candidates they are working for are often much older.
That’s not the case in Will Haskell’s campaign, which won a bid to unseat veteran Republican state Sen. Toni Boucher on Tuesday.
The 22-year-old Georgetown graduate ran to unseat Republican state Sen. Toni Boucher, who has been in office for as long as Haskell has been alive. And Haskell did it by relying on an army of teen- and college-aged volunteers to knock on doors, hand out fliers and call potential supporters.
Although he’s young, Haskell is no political newcomer. He has worked for the Democratic National Committee, campaigned for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election and interned for Rep. Jim Himes and Sen. Chris Murphy.
He said he came back to his hometown after President Donald Trump’s election win and found he disagrees with many political views of Boucher, who represented his home district. He realized that no one was planning on challenging her and then decided he would run.
About one in three volunteers who worked for Haskell’s campaign were either high school students or in their early 20s, the 22-year-old campaign manager Jack Lynch said.
Haskell’s campaign reflected a trend of young people getting involved in politics for this election season. According to Catalist, a voter data organization that works on the left, youth turnout rates among early voters were up 125% compared to the last midterms in 2014. Statewide, the voter registration between ages of 18 to 24 has more than doubled for the 2018 election cycle compared to four years ago, according to the Connecticut Secretary of the State office.
“A representative democracy should be representative, and it is not right now.” Haskell told TIME during an interview recently, “Everyday, legislators in Hartford and every state capitol and in Washington as well, they make decisions that are going to impact the state, the community, the country for decades to come, and they often do so without the input of the next generation.”
Kaila Finn, a 20-year-old writer for the campaign, recalled that she saw Haskell’s campaign ad on Facebook and was moved by his message about criminal justice reform and education and equality. She said she became more involved after finding out about bills like the Times Up Act, which aims to protect people from workplace harassments and assaults, died on the Connecticut House floor.
Finn said she was also frustrated by many elected officials’ efforts to undercut bills and felt the current policies on issues like women’s rights are not progressive enough. She decided to “go full steam ahead” with the campaign for Haskell, whose policy proposals focus on areas like paid family leave, gender wage gap and workplace harassment.
Charlotte Cohen, who was in charge of photography and campaign advertisement designs, said that the activism of Parkland students empowered her as a young person who is unable to vote. She was inspired by Haskell’s speech at the March for Our Lives rally in Connecticut and later decided to volunteer for a campaign for the first time. “I am really mad that I can’t vote,” the 17-year-old said, “I think the best way I could use my power is to help other people get out and vote.”
Though many young volunteers on Haskell’s campaign could not vote in the 2018 midterms, he said, “There is no minimum age for getting involved and to be on the right side of history.”

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