Through The Arena Summit, we’ve met thousands of first time civic leaders, activists, and candidates. We learned that those leaders often had the talent and the passion to move our democracy forward, but often found civics and politics inaccessible. They inspired us to go beyond our work as a convener and connector — to find ways to break down those barriers to entry. That’s why we built The Arena PAC Fellowship to support the most promising of the next generation of candidates.
Today we announce our second class of Arena PAC Fellows. First, we will take you through an explanation of the Fellowship, but feel free to jump to the bottom to read about these exceptional leaders.
The Arena PAC Fellowship is based on two principles:
- Expand the map. We learned through our work in Virginia that many organizations tend to mobilize around a small number of candidates in the most flippable districts. That’s why we invest in people and places that have been historically under-resourced and overlooked — even races that are viewed as nearly impossible to win. For example, in this most recent Fellowship Class, we are supporting a candidate in a Trump +28 district.
- Depth over breadth. The Arena PAC doesn’t just endorse candidates. We apply the It’s a Wonderful Life test to each candidate we work with. If we didn’t exist, how much lower would a candidate’s chances be? That’s why we provide robust, personalized support with a focus on storytelling, leadership, and organizing.
In September, we announced our first class of Fellows. That group was largely comprised of first time Congressional candidates. All ten are running strong races — and all three who’ve had primaries have advanced.
Take Lauren Underwood. Lauren came to the first Arena Summit in December 2016. She had bold policy ideas and a natural charisma, but didn’t know how to build a campaign. Lauren later joined our inaugural class of Arena PAC Fellows, and over a six month period, we found and coached a campaign manager, advised on a comprehensive campaign plan, and helped create a closing video ad. Through events hosted by The Arena Candidate PAC Victory Fund, Lauren received over $70,000 for her campaign. She went on to win her primary with more than 57% of the vote in a field that included six other candidates.
Our second class
We received more than 120 applications from 32 states for our latest class of Fellows. Today, we’re expanding our support from 10 Fellows to 27. Almost all are first-time candidates.
You’ll notice a greater number of candidates in state races — that’s because we’ve found these campaigns typically lack the strategic, financial, and personnel resources of larger campaigns.
We’ve also included a few Fellows with competitive primaries. We’ve done so in cases where we believe our candidate is a generational talent and/or where the candidate’s primary opponent has been uniquely bad on policy. For example, we are supporting three challengers to New York State Senate Independent Democratic Conference members, who have historically organized with the Republican leadership to block progress on voting rights, reproductive rights, and government reform.
- Stacey Abrams, Governor, Georgia
- Lauren Baer, Congress, Florida, 18th District
- Alessandra Biaggi, State Senate, New York, 34th District
- Maria Collett, State Senate, Pennsylvania, 12th District
- Jesse Colvin, Congress, Maryland, 1st District
- January Contreras, Attorney General, Arizona
- Anita Earls, Supreme Court, North Carolina
- Liuba Grechen Shirley, Congress, New York, 2nd District
- MJ Hegar, Congress, Texas, 31st District
- Shelly Hutchinson, State House of Representatives, Georgia, 107th District
- Brandon Lofton, State House of Representatives, North Carolina, 104th District
- Mallory McMorrow, State Senate, Michigan, 13th District
- Zellnor Myrie, State Senate, New York, 20th District
- Wisam Naoum, State House of Representatives, Michigan, 30th District
- Jessica Ramos, State Senate, New York, 13th District
- Lucas St. Clair, Congress, Maine, 2nd District
- Raquel Terán, State House of Representatives, Arizona, 30th District