Kara Eastman, a graduate of the Pitzer class of 1993, is running for Congress in Nebraska’s second congressional district against Republican incumbent Don Bacon.
Eastman ‘93 would be the first woman to ever hold the seat in her district, which includes Omaha and some suburbs around the state’s largest city.
This election is a rematch of 2018’s congressional election. Two years ago Don Bacon defeated Eastman by a margin of just under 5,000 votes. This year, Eastman and Bacon are locked in a near tie, with the seat being listed as one of the Congressional seats likely to be flipped.
“The movement for Kara is connected to all these different movements across the country, Joe Biden, Bernie and more” said Alexandra Rojas, Executive Director of Justice Democrats.
Eastman has won the support of many fellow Democrats who recognize her potential to beat Don Bacon and further the progressive movement. Some of her most prominent endorsements include; former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, Senator Kamala Harris, former President Barack Obama, and current Democratic Presidential nominee, Joe Biden,
Eastman’s progressive platform advocates for investments in a clean energy economy and livable wages for workers; not only in Nebraska but across the country. Additionally, she has proposed a comprehensive Racial Justice Plan to address systemic inequalities by making reliable transportation, affordable housing, and debt-free education more accessible.
The issue closest to Eastman’s heart, however, is the issue of healthcare.
“My mother was diagnosed with Cancer and could not afford the 2,500 dollar out of pocket cost of her medication” said Eastman ‘93.
In her primary, Eastman defeated Ann Ashford and Gladys Harrison, both of whom Eastman claims were propped up by the Democratic Party in an attempt to defeat her.
“We don’t have to run conservative milk toast democrats in order to win,” Eastman ‘93 said when she won the primary by 30 points.
A coalition of people are helping Eastman ‘93 to win the seat in Congress, including Justice Democrats, Sunrise Claremont, 5C Democrats and Eastman’s own daughter, second year Pitzer student Sabina Eastman.
Eastman ‘23 has been involved with her mother’s campaign since 2018, but COVID-19 has caused her involvement to adapt.
“My life pre-COVID with the campaign was a lot more wake up, go to school, go to a fundraiser, go to an event, go to a yard sign party, go to something” said Eastman ‘23.
Now, aside from appearing in campaign ads, Eastman ‘23 helps to mobilize young people to support her mother’s campaign. Recently, Eastman ‘23 helped promote a 5C phone-banking event hosted by 5C Democrats and Sunrise Claremont Colleges.
Sunrise Claremont Colleges founder and hub coordinator, Eric Warmoth CMC ‘22, spoke to their decision to co-host the event.
“Sunrise National decided not to endorse [Eastman ‘93] because the Omaha hub is inactive, but she is exactly in line with our principles” said Warmoth CMC ’22.
The 5C event took place over zoom on Thursday October 1st and successfully mobilized thirteen students from across the colleges to support Eastman’s campaign.
Eastman ‘93 attended the event and spoke with 5C volunteers about their significance in the race.
“It’s a tough district. We’ve been doing this for a long time, we know how tough it is” said Eastman ‘93.
During the event, students muted their microphones while they made calls to potential voters in Omaha and celebrated successful conversations with their fellow phonebankers by sending star symbols into the zoom chat.
Overall, the high levels of Eastman voters that the students reported seems to be on par with the data that Eastman’s own team is collecting. Of the 25% of Nebraska District 2 that is registered Independent, the rate of voters who requested a democratic mail-in ballot was 2:1. Official polling is similar. The New York Times estimates that Eastman will lose 45% to 43%, while GQR research has her up a point 50% to 49%.
To many in Nebraska’s surprise, Eastman has outraised Don Bacon this election cycle, with an average donation amount of only $15. Eastman is proud that she does not take money from Super PACs and from private interests.
As the election draws near, it remains to be seen if a Pitzer alum will be in the House of Representatives. However, one thing is for certain: the fight to put Kara Eastman in Congress is raging.