Meet the amazing 2018 candidates who got their start on Crowdpac
From testing the waters of a run for office to utilizing our creative fundraising tools, these candidates used Crowdpac to get to Election Day.
With Crowdpac, more people are running for office than ever before — nontraditional candidates like nurses, scientists, and teachers are running at all levels of government, from Congress to School Board to local Mosquito Controller.
From testing the waters of a run for office to using our creative fundraising tools, we’re proud to have helped a stellar pool of candidates reach their fundraising goals and launch their campaigns.
2018 has made it clear: crowdfunding is the most effective way to make an impact in politics, and Crowdpac is where political change begins.
The candidates who used Crowdpac’s Start Running tool to launch their campaigns:
The Registered Nurse running in a red-to-blue Toss Up: Lauren Underwood (IL-14)
Lauren Underwood decided to challenge her Congressman, Republican Randy Hultgren, after he broke his promise and voted for the GOP healthcare plan. With Crowdpac’s Start Running tool, she was able to collect financial pledges before declaring her candidacy. In addition to testing her network for financial viability, Lauren used Crowdpac to realize that there was path forward for someone like her — a nurse with a pre-existing condition in the midst of the healthcare battle — to have a shot in a crowded Democratic primary.
In a few short weeks, she raised $27,000 in pledges. After surpassing her first few fundraising goals, she jumped into the seven-person primary — where she was the only woman and the only person of color. She took home 57% of the vote in the primary and is taking on a powerful incumbent in a Toss-Up Race.
Unseating the architect of the AHCA in NJ-03: Andy Kim
Former national security adviser Andy Kim tested the waters using Crowdpac and, amid last year’s healthcare battle, launched his campaign to take on the Congressman single handedly responsible for the removal of protections for pre-existing conditions. With Crowdpac’s Start Running tool, Kim was able to capitalize on the energy around the healthcare debate and announced his candidacy with $58,000 raised in pledges. Kim is neck-and-neck with Republican Rep. Tom MacArthur, one of the key architects of the House GOP-passed American Health Care Act.
A veteran and aerospace engineer in TX-21: Joseph Kopser
With Crowdpac, anyone can explore a run for office, like aerospace engineer & tech entrepreneur Joseph Kopser. Kopser used our Start Running tool to gauge his level of support and build a community of followers, raising over $80,000 in pledges in a few days. Utilizing social media and leveraging Crowdpac’s national ecosystem of donors, Kopser was able to declare his candidacy with money in the bank and launch with instant momentum. After a decisive 16-point victory in the primary runoff, the veteran is now in one of the most closely watched races for the House, running for the open seat currently held by Republican incumbent Lamar Smith.
Toss Up Race in MI-11: Haley Stevens
Former Obama Administration official Haley Stevens was considering a run against incumbent Republican Rep. David Trott and began collecting pledges of financial support with Crowdpac’s Start Running tool. After the “hot mic” moment when Trott was caught calling his town-hall attendees “unpatriotic,” people turned to Stevens’ Crowdpac campaign to channel their rage. In just a few short weeks, she raised what she needed to for her potential bid. Trott subsequently decided to retire, moving the district from Lean R to Toss Up and clearing the path for Stevens to become the Democratic frontrunner in the race.
Former National Security advisor in MI-08: Elissa Slotkin
Former National Security advisor Elissa Slotkin used Crowdpac’s Start Running tool to test the waters in her congressional bid. After reaching her initial fundraising goal of $20,000, she made things official.
Her entrance into the race has presented such a strong challenge to incumbent Mike Bishop that Republican Super PACs have entered the race, abandoned and reentered with funds to keep hold of the district.
“Kick Out Comstock” in VA-10: Jennifer Wexton
A Draft State Senator Jennifer Wexton campaign quickly went viral on Crowdpac — donors made financial pledges urging Wexton to run for Virginia’s 10th to “Kick Out Comstock.”
Less than 24 hours after Wexton officially declared her candidacy, the district went from Lean Republican to Toss Up, and Wexton is expected to unseat Republican incumbent Barbara Comstock.
Taking on Republican incumbents in Alabama: Mallory Hagan (AL-03), Lee Auman (AL-04), & Danner Kline (AL-06)
Crowdpac has served as a platform for many Democrats hoping to represent their historically red districts, who can raise what they need from crowdfunding regardless of level of support from the Democratic establishment. Take Mallory Hagan, the Democratic nominee for Congress in Alabama’s 3rd. She’s known as the former Miss America who called out sexism within the organization. What you may not know is she got her start on Crowdpac, using our Start Running tool to raise nearly $20,000 in pledges in a week, declare her candidacy and come out of the gate ready to take on a 16-year incumbent.
For three of the last four congressional elections, Republican incumbent Robert Aderholt has run unopposed in Alabama’s 4th Congressional District (representing the same district for some 22 years!). That’s why Lee Auman decided to enter the race — he believes if Democrats are ever going to challenge in this district they need to start now, with him. Lee used Crowdpac’s Start Running tool to make sure he had enough funds in the bank to get on the ballot and challenge Rep. Aderholt.
Danner Kline hopes to do the impossible in a deeply red district like Alabama’s 6th: get elected as a Democrat. He’s taken on Alabama politics before as the head of the Free the Hops movement, a grassroots organization to reform prohibition-era beer laws in the state. He hopes to use that same grassroots spirit in a district that Democrats have refused to invest in.
The millennials, scientists & more who could change the face of Congress:
CA-34: Kenneth Mejia vs. Rep. Jimmy Gomez
Crowdpac played a pivotal role in California’s 34th Congressional District from the special election in 2017 to this year’s top-two primary and now into the general election. Our platform made it possible for a 26-year-old Green Party candidate to launch a successful congressional campaign: Kenneth Mejia hit one fundraising goal after another on Crowdpac, starting with a goal of $20,000 for the primary election and eventually raising over $80,000 in small-dollar donations. He decided to take on freshman Democrat Rep. Jimmy Gomez, who became the first Democrat elected to Congress since Trump took office after winning a special election in 2017. Rep. Gomez started his campaign for former Congressman Xavier Becerra’s seat on Crowdpac.
Crowdfunding her run for MA-03: Lori Trahan
Lori Trahan knows her way around Congress. She began her career working for Massachusetts Representative Marty Meehan, eventually becoming his Chief of Staff. After leaving Congress to work in the tech industry, the CEO of an all-women owned consulting firm has decided to run for retiring Rep. Nicki Tsongas’ seat. Lori raised over $230,000 on Crowdpac for her congressional run, which will likely bring her a victory on Election Day.
A professor & scientist running for MS-01: Randy Wadkins
Mississippi isn’t the first state many picture when brainstorming successful Democratic challengers — this University of Mississippi professor is hoping to change that by unseating Republican Representative Trent Kelly. Randy Wadkins has taught chemistry at Ole Miss for 14 years, with a focus on developing improved antitumor drugs to beat cancer. In 2015, he worked as a Science and Technology Congressional Fellow, where he analyzed healthcare policy for Representative Steve Cohen.
It was his experience in Washington that led him to run for office and raise over $38,000 on Crowdpac.
This write-in candidate is taking on an avowed Neo-Nazi for IL-03: Justin Hanson
No one saw an avowed Nazi Arthur Jones coming onto the ballot, including the Republican Party. Former Capitol Hill staff and Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Justin Hanson was so disgusted by Jones’ rhetoric and beliefs that he decided to enter the race as an independent write-in candidate. Through Crowdpac, he was able to raise over $36,000 in his effort to defeat Nazism.
Fighting for health care in TN-03: Danielle Mitchell
Dr. Danielle Mitchell grew up in poverty and experienced the heartbreaking consequences of not having health insurance when her younger brother died after not having access to health care. She’s fought her entire life since then — through medical school, starting her own clinic that serves rural Tennesseans and now, fighting against an incumbent-Republican in a Solid Republican district. She’s raised almost $20k for her congressional campaign in Tennessee’s 3rd.
James Courage Singer could be the first Navajo elected to Congress in UT-03
Educator and activist James Courage Singer is already making history as the first Navajo in Utah to run for a seat in the House. Last year, Kathie Allen proved that Democrats could compete in this deeply red district by raising over $500,000 on Crowdpac from small-dollar donors. Singer used Crowdpac to launch his campaign to unseat incumbent Republican John Curtis, who was first elected in a 2017 special election.
The mother of 2 running against a hate-spewing Congressman: Angie Craig (MN-2)
Angie Craig knows what it’s like to grow up without health care after being raised in a trailer park by a single mother without health insurance. Angie’s fight for her right to adopt with her same-sex partner shaped her decision to run for Congress. The former journalist and healthcare leader was unanimously endorsed by the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party and is now running for the second time against Republican Jason Lewis. Rep. Lewis, who won the seat in 2016, is a former right-wing radio host who has been under fire this year for his baseless and vitriolic claims about women and people of color. Democrats are hoping that 2018 will be the year to give him the boot.
Making history as one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress: Ilhan Omar (MN-5)
Ilhan Omar made history and national headlines two years ago after becoming the first Somali-American ever to be elected to a state legislature.
She’s now slated to make history once again as one of the first Muslim women and the first Somali-American woman to be elected to Congress in a historic year for women.
From striking to running: the teachers in Oklahoma & beyond who used Crowdpac to run for office:
Republican lawmaker’s rant inspires lifelong Oklahoma educator Cyndi Ralston to run against him
Cyndi Ralston had not planned to announce her candidacy until she officially filed — until a video of Republican Kevin McDugle disrespecting protesting teachers and the #RedForEd movement, went viral. She was able to quickly get a Crowdpac campaign set up, capitalize on the momentum of the gaffe and the strike, and take on her representative. Ultimately, she raised more than $30,000 before even filing the paperwork for her campaign.
Mary Boren, an Oklahoma school counselor running for State Senate
Oklahoma teachers made headlines after sparking a national outcry for better funding in public schools — they went from protesting at the Capitol to running for office in their own communities, including former attorney and school counselor Mary Boren.
She was able to match her fundraising goal of $3,000 by 159% in her campaign for Oklahoma’s 16th district. She’s hoping to bring a voice to the state capital to advocate for schools that don’t have enough resources, which is causing teachers to leave the state.
Third grade teacher & Black Lives Matter activist: Zellie Thomas
Zellie Thomas is a third grade math teacher, a community activist, and a Black Lives Matter leader. He’s running because the residents of Paterson deserve access to living wage jobs, affordable housing, and quality education. Zellie wants to build a political revolution and keep his community “empowered within a system that often ignores them.” He’s used Crowdpac to raise over $8,000 for his campaign for City Council in Paterson, New Jersey.
Fighting for educators in the state legislature: Alice Cain (MD-30A)
Alice Cain raised a whopping $63,000 on Crowdpac for her Maryland State House campaign. She’s dedicated her career to pushing education policy — first in Congress for the Education Committee, then in the nonprofit world, and most recently as the Commissioner on the Annapolis Education Commission. She’s ready to fight for students and educators at the state level.
Running for Gwinnett, from Gwinnett: Everton Blair
This lifelong Atlantan went to Gwinnett County Public Schools — now Everton Blair is running for Gwinnett’s Board of Education to give back to his hometown school district. As a math teacher himself, he believes it’s important that the school board has members with direct teaching experience. And, if elected, he’d make history as the first person of color on the board in a system where 3 out of 4 students are students of color.
Special Education teacher running for Iowa State House: Eric Gjerde
Eric Gjerde is a special education teacher who experienced the benefits of Medicaid firsthand after his twin daughters were born prematurely and continue to need special medical care. He’s running against a Republican incumbent in the hopes of fighting back against the Republican-controlled House, Senate and Governor’s Office in Iowa.
DC Board of Education: Jessica Sutter
Jessica Sutter has worked to improve education for kids for nearly 20 years. After teaching middle school for seven years, she made grants of public funds to foster innovation in DC public charter schools and ran community meetings in all eight wards to understand what DC families wanted from their schools. For the past five years, she has run a consulting business to improve educational outcomes for students.
Meet the folks running downballot across America:
After launching his campaign on Crowdpac, Zach Wahls could become one of Iowa’s youngest state senators
LGBTQ activist and author Zach Wahls went viral a few years ago when he testified before the Iowa State House Judiciary about being raised by two mothers. His former high school teacher created a Crowdpac campaign for Zach for State Senate, and his formal campaign announcement led to a fundraising blitz that to date has raised over $45,000 from over 1,100 individuals — more than enough for a successful State Senate campaign.
Wahls won his Democratic primary and has a clear path to becoming one of Iowa’s youngest state senators ever on November 6.
Olivia Babis could be the first Florida State Senator with a disability
Olivia Babis has been a fighter her entire life as a result of being born without arms — she’s a community activist in Sarasota and chapter leader of several women’s groups, so she knows how to take charge. She wants to bring that drive to effect change in the Florida State Senate.
If elected, she’ll be the first person to serve in the state’s legislature with a visible disability, where she’s sure to break down barriers and raise the voices of others with disabilities.
Unseating a 30-year incumbent: Ashley McCray for Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner
With the support of over 330 small-dollar donors on Crowdpac, Ashley McCray crowdfunded nearly $15k for her campaign for Oklahoma’s Corporation Commissioner. This gave her the momentum she needed to sweep the primary in a 4 way race, with 100,000 votes from her closest contender! McCray was just a little over 1 pt shy of avoiding a runoff, but now the Absentee Shawnee Tribe member & environmental activist has the opportunity to unseat 30-year incumbent Bob Anthony, who has been in office longer than any other Corporation Commissioner in America.
Government professor to City Council candidate: Frances Marquez
Frances Marquez is part of the rise of women and educators running for office at the local level this year — the government professor at Gallaudet University wants to fight for safer neighborhoods, accountability at City Hall, and opportunities for the youth and seniors. She has decades of experience in public service as a congressional staffer and statewide director of the New Citizen Voter Registration Project. She raised over $16,000 for her Crowdpac campaign for City Council in Cypress, CA.
Latino Millennial & first-generation college graduate runs for AZ State House: Andrés Cano
Andrés Cano knows that it’s time for Latinos to have a seat at the table.
He’s 26 years old, gay and a first-generation college graduate–and the product of a single mom who taught him to never give up. Cano is a proud Democrat running for Arizona’s State House in the 3rd District because he wants all Arizonans to have the opportunity to achieve their highest potential.
Improving education in Arkansas: Kelly Scott Unger
Kelly Scott Unger is a public prosecutor, wife to a middle school principal, running for State House in Arkansas, a state that has ranked 41st in education. Citing education as one of her top priorities, she raised over $12,000 on Crowdpac in order to fight for education in Little Rock as representative in the 87th District.
Former Gillum Chief of Staff runs for Mayor of Tallahassee: Dustin Daniels
Dustin Daniels is no stranger to overcoming adversity after growing up in poverty and becoming the first member of his family to attend college. He’s the former Chief of Staff to Florida’s Gubernatorial candidate, Andrew Gillum, hoping to address inequality, innovation and crime in the Mayor’s office. With Crowdpac, he raised nearly $10,000 early on in his campaign.
Local diner owner running for PA State House: Jason Ruff
2018 has inspired an entirely new generation of political newcomers.
Local diner owner and active community member, Jason Ruff, wants to bring new ideas to the Pennsylvania State Capitol as representative in PA’s 183rd District, including a property tax reform to help the grossly underserved public schools.
He used Crowdpac to raise over $10,000 for his campaign.
Melissa Martin for Florida State Senate, District 14
Melissa Martin is a retired US Marine who moved back to Central Florida to raise her kids in the same environment she once grew up in. She realized, however, that it had changed as a result of politicians more interested in short-term dollars and deals, rather than long-term planning and solutions. She’s raised over $20K on her Crowdpac campaign to champion against bribery in the state legislature.
A Veteran for Dallas: Brandon Vance
Brandon is an Air Force veteran who crowdfunded over $6,000 on Crowdpac for his Dallas, Texas City Council race. A progressive Democrat, he’s been involved with local chapters of the NAACP, the New Leaders Council, Young Democrats and more.