New Politics Organization
When Emily Cherniack saw an ad for a job that read "Get up, get coffee and change the world" she took it literally. She answered a call to help underserved Boston public school kids through a program called City Year AmeriCorps. A few years later she was tapped to run the Senate campaign of her boss at City Year, Alan Khazei. Khazei lost. But Cherniack succeeded in finding her next calling. She formed New Politics Organization to help national service alumni and military veterans get elected to office — in the tradition of John Kerry, John McCain and John F. Kennedy. "Before 1970, over 75 percent of congress had service backgrounds," says Cherniack. Today, she says, that number is at an all-time low. In 2014, New Politics Organization supported 5 candidates in key states and federal races, winning 3, including the election of Congressman Seth Moulton in Massachusetts. In 2018, they hope to support 50 candidates from both parties.
Cherniack looks for service oriented people. "People who've done AmeriCorps, programs like City Year, Teach For America, Youthbuilds, the Peace Corps, and Jesuit Corps — any type of significant service wherein people have dedicated a year or more to full-time service. We recognize that military is a high level of sacrifice. But they all kind of embody the ethos of service. When Seth Moulton came back from serving in the Iraq war he had trouble connecting to civilians and he felt like no one understood his experience as a veteran. He ended up hanging out with AmeriCorps alums like me. I first met him in 2007, and he said it was the first time he felt connected to people that were not veterans and it was actually what inspired him to be a fan of the idea of national service. Of course, it's a different level of service — he was in combat — but that same sort of commitment to country and that service ethos comes through."
Emily Cherniack speaking with Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton (center) and several of the candidates she supports in 2018 House races, (far left) former Marine Corps sargeant Roger Dean Huffstetler of Virginia; (second from right) former Navy helicopter pilot Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey; and (far right) Army vet Dan Feehan of Minnessota. The group spoke at a September 9 event at the Harvard University's Kennedy School's Center for Public Leadership on the positive impact that service veterans can have on our politics.
"In 2014, there were 5. In 2016, we had 23 candidates. This cycle, 2018, we'll have 50: 20 congressional and then 30 down-ballot."