Jess King

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Bernie Sanders, Jess King

Jess King is a Lancaster Pennsylvania activist.

Endorsing Jess King


After holding candidate forums before the Democratic primary, Lancaster Stands Up eventually endorsed Democratic candidate Jess King. King, a community leader with deep local Mennonite roots who founded a nonprofit small business incubator for women and people of color, is running on a progressive populist platform that includes Medicare for All and debt-free public college.

Our organizing efforts helped Jess King to effectively route the establishment competitor in the primary. Now, King and her army of volunteers are set to run a historically tight race against Lloyd Smucker.[1]

In June, Jess King launched her bid for Congress and had to leave LSU, which legally must remain independent from the campaign. In July, Christina Hartman, who ran for Congress in 2016, announced she’d be making another run for the seat. Despite underperforming Hillary Clinton — she won 42.9 percent to Clinton’s 47.5 in the district — she was quickly endorsed by the state party’s leaders, including former Gov. Ed Rendell, most of the congressional delegation, and other local politicos.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee invited Hartman — but not King — to Washington for a candidate training. Big money began to pour in. In December, Washington-based EMILY’s List, which backs pro-choice women, endorsed Hartman, driving more money her way and further entrenching her as the inevitable nominee

The contrast between the candidates was evident in the results of a questionnaire distributed as part of the LSU endorsement process. When asked, for instance, about her position on a controversial pipeline opposed by some community members, King responded: “Fracked gas pipelines threaten our land and water just so a few oil and gas executives can get a little richer. I stand in opposition to the construction of the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline.”

Hartman wouldn’t take a position, writing, “To be true to our heritage, we must make responsible land decisions while balancing the needs of our economy and I will work to make sure it grows in a sustainable way.”

Annie Weaver thinks she probably voted for Hartman in 2016, but she can’t be sure. This time around, Hartman’s approach felt lacking. Weaver and her fellow LSUers voted overwhelmingly to endorse their former comrade.[2]

Helped LSU

Jess King was able to help group of activists reserve meeting space in the historic building out of which she ran her nonprofit. Several hundred people showed up for the meeting, a staggering turnout for the area. The next month, 400 people showed up — some 600 the month after. The congregants decided to formalize the energy into a new civic group, called Lancaster Stands Up.

They began meeting regularly to organize around assaults like the Muslim ban and the attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. They also began targeting the local elections coming up that November.[3]

Radical staff

Becca Rast, Jess King’s campaign manager, organized her high school to march against the Iraq War with help from Jonathan Smucker, who at the time was the national field organizer for the War Resisters League. Rast’s teenage co-organizer, Nick Martin, is now the King campaign’s field director.[4]

Harvesting "low propensity" voters

Last November, Democrats picked up seats all across the state, but the party did particularly well near King’s district. In Lancaster City, Democrats swept the council, winning all four seats with a historically diverse slate of relatively progressive candidates. The city, which is 30 percent Puerto Rican and host to many displaced by Hurricane Maria, also elected its first Puerto Rican member of the school board, Salina Almanzar. (The King campaign has a paid staffer specifically dedicated to organizing, registering, and turning out low-propensity voters in Lancaster City, many of whom are Latinos and African-Americans in the majority-minority city.)[5]

Spring 2018 Endorsements

Keystone Progress 2018 endorsements. US House

Justice Democrats

Jess King PA 11 was endorsed by Justice Democrats for 2018.

Vote Common Good 2018 endorsements

Vote Common Good 2018 endorsements included Jess King.


Sunrise slate 2018

Sunrise Movement August 2 2018:

We're thrilled to introduce you to our first-ever round of candidate endorsements: the #SunriseSlate2018!


These candidates are some of the earliest adopters of the #NoFossilFuelMoney pledge and, if elected, would lead the fight against oil and gas lobbyists in state capitols and Washington, DC. They’re putting forward big policy solutions to the climate crisis, like championing a Green New Deal and supporting a just and rapid transition to a 100% renewable energy future that leaves no community behind.

Learn more and support our efforts here! — with Katie Muth for PA Senate, Deb Haaland for Congress, Alessandra Biaggi, Kaniela Ing, Jess King for Congress, Julia Salazar for State Senate, Dana Hamp Gulick for PA 97th, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Representative Anna Eskamani, Abdul El-Sayed, Danielle Friel Otten for PA District 155, Cynthia Nixon for New York, Benjamin Jealous, Jumaane D. Williams, Ilhan Omar for Congress, Randy Bryce, Zellnor Myrie for New York and Rashida Tlaib For Congress, Penelope Tsernoglou Michigan State House, Michele Wherley Pennsylvania State House. .