ST. LOUIS — Volunteers participating in the Summer Youth Elections Camp here were credited with the victory of Robin Wright-Jones in the 5th District State Senate primary here Aug. 5. Wright-Jones won by 111 votes over opponent Rodney Hubbard who had the support and over $500,000 in funding from several in Missouri’s right-wing leadership—including the current speaker of the state house, a Republican.
Participants in the camp, sponsored by the Youth Voter Collective, came from all over the country, though a significant portion came from St Louis. They attended workshop sessions detailing how to develop a voter universe (list), how to analyze power and how to win ballot initiatives. In the afternoons, many of them volunteered separately with the Wright-Jones campaign in order to get real hands-on experience.
“The camp was educational, but at the same time fun! It took me forever to realize what a coalition was during the workshops, but in our field work we saw how everyone came together to win,” said Jasmine Dunlap, 17, of St Louis. “The whole experience was worth it!”
Youth volunteers spent a week canvassing nearly 10,000 doors in wards that ultimately decided the campaign. In total, 12,281 people voted in this local election, 6,196 of those going to Wright-Jones.
Having been the underdog during the entire campaign, the up-to-the-final-vote victory was a huge defeat for the state’s right-wing, preserving public schools, putting thousands of Missourians back on Medicaid and maintaining the progressive momentum sweeping the country.
“During the training, we learned how votes and money are all a part of electoral power,” said Demetrian Williams, 16, of St. Louis. “Through this entire experience we learned how votes, when mobilized, can out-organize big money.”