Hi. My name’s Lauren Cooper, and I’ve been honored to serve Florida State House District 47 for the last year as Anna Eskamani’s Digital Advocacy Coordinator. You may not recognize my name because my work has often been behind a camera lens, smartphone, or laptop, but you will recognize this story. Because it’s ours.
Yes, this is the story of how we restored hope where it was lost and how we shined light on the darkness we stared into for 24 long months with rallies, screeches, door knocks, caffeine, ballots, bulletins, and a whole lot of love.
Tuesday night, we witnessed history as our community flipped a critical seat in the state legislature. Huddled in a single room at the Embassy Suites, we had a sea of supporters seated on couches and floors, flooding into the hallway and bedroom, beaming from wall to wall: the enthusiasm and warmth were bubbling from every corner of Room 521 when poll numbers began pouring in. A year and a half of people power had surged and peaked with a news update just after 7:30pm EST – we hadn’t only won District 47; we had crushed it in the polls by a 15% margin, and elected the first Iranian-American to any public office in Florida. If you ask me, that’s a pretty good Tuesday.
For our campaign team, 16 months of endless work suddenly peaked in a single definitive moment. Together, we had rebuilt our lives around this work, and sacrificed time, energy, and opportunities to seize a lone progressive seat in Tallahassee. However, we were also bracing ourselves for the proclaimed “Blue Wave,” and so – between chants, hugs, tears, and social media posts – we were all glued to nearby monitors and refreshing election pages, too. Just like you.
Half an hour after the polls had closed, we had already tasted victory, but we were serious as news channels throughout the hotel displayed key races across the state and the country. Like a tennis match, we watched the poll results swing back and forth from red to blue, and our hearts moved with the numbers, knowing lives were on the line and allies were in jeopardy.
It’s funny how a few hours in front of the TV on Election Day can feel like an eternity, but an entire campaign cycle can feel like a blip in time.
Once we finally learned the results of our state races, our staff called it a night around 2:00am with whispers of the 2020 election, gestures of condolence, and endless words of gratitude. Even amid the late hours and dark moments, the warmth of our campaign family presented itself in hushed smiles as we prepared our hotel room for checkout. In typical grassroot style, Anna took the lead on tidying up, and those final moments had a calmness that we knew well, the comfortable silence you only feel with those who know you best.
As we grapple with the tides of this election and as we brace ourselves for an intense presidential cycle in 2020, we feel a lot of emotions that the opposition does not understand.
We feel hope because we have successfully flipped the majority in the House of Representatives to deliver checks and balances in our government.
We feel proud because we saw a millennial voting bloc that carried this election to new heights nationally.
We feel confident because we have locally seen the impact of grassroot engagement, empathy, and authenticity – nobody can ever take the power of this movement away from us.
And, most importantly, we feel empowered because the diversity of our legislation is setting the tone for a future where hatred, racism, bigotry, and oppression do not have political weight, and our leaders truly represent the majesty and power of our population.
Right now, our country is imperfect, but we are gaining the momentum to drive the US towards a blue 2020. Sure, you can call us crazy, but you don’t have to look far in Central Florida to see all the good that a handful of passionate people and a wave of energized voters can do; and you can bet we’re ready to do it again. We will continue to always hold onto that energy while we continue to fight for you.
Looking forward, there’s only one way to go from here: unapologetically onward, together.
#TeamAnna’s Campaign Staff