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Will Haskell: 22-year-old Connecticut state senator was former intern

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will haskell campaigning
Will
Haskell on the campaign trail.


Will
Haskell for CT/Facebook



  • 22-year-old Democrat Will Haskell won a Connecticut
    state senate seat held by Republicans since 1973.
  • He was a Business Insider intern before that.
  • Haskell believes states can be a bulwark against the
    Trump presidency, and that’s what his voters want.
  • He says the press plays an important role in informing
    the electorate.

On November 2, 22-year-old Will Haskell flipped one of the most
entrenched seats in the Connecticut state senate from red to
blue.

Connecticut’s 26th senate district has been held by Republicans
since Richard Nixon was president. And its incumbent, Toni
Boucher, had worked in the legislature since before Haskell was
born. But with a nimble digital strategy, a campaign that
involved a lot of door-knocking, and a pair of endorsements from
former President Barack Obama and Senator Chris Murphy, Haskell
ousted Boucher and helped Democrats tie the state’s senate.

Before all that, Haskell worked at Business Insider. He was an
intern the summer after his freshman year at Georgetown
University (he graduated this past spring), writing about digital
culture for this company’s now-shuttered offshoot site Tech
Insider. Some of his best-remembered articles include covering
both shark-wrestling Instagram
celebrities
and a convention for cat lovers,
as well as the occasional piece of political coverage.

Haskell realized he wasn’t into journalism, and planned to go to
law school. He had subsequent internships working for Murphy and
the Democratic National Committee. But after Donald Trump became
president, he took Obama’s farewell speech to heart: “If you’re
disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get
some signatures, and run for office yourself.”

Haskell took him up on it.

“I was never planning on running for office,” he told Business
Insider.”But this is a unique time in history that requires us to
put ourselves outside of our comfort zone.”

Haskell sees his own election, in part, as a repudiation of
Trump. States can be the bulwark against Republican policies, he
said.

Reproductive health freedom, LGBTQ issues, environmental
regulations, voting rights – and more fundamentally, human
decency and compassion. Those were all on the ballot,” he said.
“And my community decided to show up and vote.”

He pointed to the Connecticut senate’s failure to pass a bill
protecting net neutrality, as well as the legislative body’s failure to
pass a “Time’s Up” bill
to protect victims of sexual
harassment.

“There are so many areas where legislatures now have to be that
first line of defense,” he said. “We can’t count on Congress. We
can’t count on the Supreme Court to protect our most fundamental
values. The job now falls to our state capitols. I view that as
part of my role.”

Haskell also credits his victory to enormous turnout. The
district he’ll be representing had only 10% fewer voters show up
between the 2016 presidential election and the 2018 midterms, a
smaller decline than usual. He says it’s because he prioritized knocking on
doors
 and for reaching voters on Instagram, Facebook,
and Twitter. Haskell says he wants to meet voters where they
already are, whether on the street or on their phones.

“I gave voters a look into my daily life on my instagram
stories,” he said. “That’s something I want to continue to do as
a state senator. I want people to know what it’s like to be a
state senator.”

Haskell also pledges to work with the media to create an informed
democracy.

“Too often, politicians and
journalists see their jobs in opposition of one another, when in
fact we so desperately rely on journalists to accurately report
information to get facts,” he said. “Elections are about choices,
and voters can’t possibly make up their minds without all the
information that they need.”

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