The reality of Jahana Hayes becoming Connecticut’s first Black Democrat in Congress became more tangible this week when Hayes beat out Democratic nominee Mary Glassman in the state’s 5th Congressional District primary, despite Glassman receiving the full backing of the Democratic party.
Hayes, did however, receive a public endorsement from Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif). When Democratic Rep. Elizabeth Esty announced that she would not be seeking re-election as her current term was shrouded in controversy, the seat opened up and Hayes stepped forward to take on the challenge.
While many dismissed Hayes, it seems that President Barack Obama was already well aware of her potential. In 2016, Obama named Hayes National Teacher Of The Year. At the time, Hayes who was teaching social studies at John F. Kennedy High School in Waterbury.
Her route to politics was not a straightforward one and her story may be far less traditional than many of her opponents and colleagues.
She was raised by her grandmother in Waterbury as her mother was battling addiction at the time. She became a mother at the age of 17, but she has used her tough upbringing to embolden her and motivate her to empower others. Her story became a lynchpin for her primary campaign
“This is my home, where people are strong, but they aren’t supposed to run for Congress. If Congress starts to look like us, no one can stop us. This is our moment to act, to organize, and bring our truth to power,” she said in a video campaign.
In the November general election, Hayes will go head-to-head with Republicans Manny Santos. Early polls indicate that Hayes could very well win the seat.