ST. CHARLES – Congresswoman-elect Lauren Underwood credited grassroots supporters in all seven counties of the 14th District with propelling her to victory Nov. 6
Underwood unseated incumbent Republican Randy Hultgren, R-Plano, to serve the 14th Congressional District. She will be sworn in Jan. 3.
“You all were literally with us every day, many from the very beginning,” Underwood said, speaking to the 50 supporters and volunteers who attended her post-election press conference Nov. 7 at her St. Charles campaign headquarters. “We would not have been able to do this without your help.”
In looking at the vote totals, Underwood said she was stunned that she carried every county except McHenry, where she was down by only 2,000 votes.
“People like to talk about our community like it’s this very red area. So conservative. Entrenched conservative – all these different phrases that they would use to describe the political leanings of this district and to describe the possibilities for Democrats,” Underwood said.
“I think we completely turned that on its head. And that doesn’t just happen,” she said, noting that in addition to Democrats, conservatives, Republicans and independents also supported her. “That happened because of you.”
Her campaign “tried to be everywhere all the time” and lived up to that credo because volunteers brought her campaign into their neighborhoods throughout the district.
“Into your cul-de-sacs, into your counties,” Underwood said. “Even the most rural parts of our district, like DeKalb County. We had anchors in Sycamore. … [Who] let us get to know that community and be a base of operations to do the work. … When we didn’t have an office, we were working out of your homes and you would store our materials and pass out petitions and collect that. That’s how this campaign started."
While the Democratic vote was being called the Blue Wave, there was also the Pink Wave – the women’s vote – a major factor in the midterm, Underwood said.
“I’m one of the women who marched in the Women’s March and decided to campaign. ‘Time Magazine’ called us ‘The Avengers.’ What was very clear is that women have been mobilized in a very specific and concrete way to engage in our country,” Underwood said.
From the Women’s March, women formed support groups while others organized, creating an non-partisan agenda that women could support, and a foundation for local organizing Underwood said.
These groups covered the district, from the Wisconsin border through McHenry and Kane counties, she said.
“We had Women’s March ‘Huddles’ that turned into organizations … [with] a built-in network of support,” she said. “My candidacy, very clearly, had its foundation in one of those groups. And the women in those groups have been our strongest, most loyal and dedicated volunteers, donors, amplifiers and supporters.”
Women in the 14th District run every PTA, church group and many civic organizations, but had not run for office, Underwood said.
“This year, it’s changed,” she said. “Women are superheroes.”
Women across the country have seen there is a way to step forward and lead and that’s what they are going to do, she said.
“We have a congress that will not call for [a vote on] universal background checks. ... We have a congress that would not consider legislation about paid family leave. We have a president who deputized his daughter to go make it happen and they could not get it done. We have a congress that has shown no interest in moving on affordable child care,” Underwood said.
“These are three non-partisan or bi-partisan pieces of legislation that male congressional inertia has failed to act on,” Underwood said. “The female candidates that I spoke to are ready to do the work.”