Monday evening, the university’s Socialist Student Union hosted United States Congressional Candidate, Morgan Harper. Harper is running as a Democrat for the 3rd Congressional District in Ohio.
District 3 has been represented by Rep. Joyce Beatty since 2012. Beatty has won three consecutive races in District 3. This election cycle will mark the first one in quite some time that Beatty has had a serious challenger.
In the last two cycles, Beatty ran unopposed in the primary. In gerrymandered districts, general elections tend to have little threat as one party controls the entire district; candidates from the opposing party are typically not a threat. In a very unconventional move, Harper chose to mount her own run to be the democratic candidate for OH-D3.
Harper is a woman of color who was born here in Columbus, Ohio. As an infant, she spent her time in foster care until being adopted by her mother. She grew up on the east side of Columbus. It was after she received financial aid to attend the Columbus Academy that she came to realize just how disadvantaged some people are.
In this realization, Harper’s now burning passion to help others through public service began to spark. Harper went on to get her Master’s in Public Policy from Princeton and a law degree from Stanford and began working in Washington at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) but left after being weighed down by the environment.
In 2011, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the brainchild of then Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren, opened its doors. Former President Obama appointed former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to be the first director of bureau which was tasked with holding banks and loan companies to a higher standard following the economic crash in 2011.
Harper returned to Washington to work for the CFPB for a few years. She ultimately rose to a policy adviser to director Cordray.
After leaving the CFPB, Harper worked for LISC, which according to her website, “invests in communities that have been systematically under-resourced,” something she said is extremely important to her.
The main reason Harper is running against an incumbent democrat is because she wants to give power back to the people. Harper has sworn off corporate Political Action Committee (PAC) money. Harper said she doesn’t want to be held captive to anyone other than her voters.
Aside from her commitment to get big money out of politics, Harper pointed to many other issues that separate her from Beatty. Harper is fully committed to Medicare for All. This is an issue she said Beatty has not been consistent on. Harper is also committed to the Green New Deal. Harper said that it was not until Harper began to bring up the Green New Deal that Beatty began to also take interest in the bill.
The final issue Harper touched on that separated herself and the incumbent was that of having a housing platform. Harper spoke passionately on having access to affordable housing as it was an issue that touched her personally.
Harper knows that her campaign is not popular amongst the democratic establishment in Ohio. Many people told her not to run. That she needed to, “wait her turn” and that she would never work in Columbus again if she took on this task of battling an incumbent.
Despite skepticism, Harper’s campaign has been able to raise money and gain traction. She was able to raise roughly $600,000 in six months. The overwhelming majority of that money came from individual contributions and none from corporate PACs.
The Democratic Primary will be held on March 17 alongside the presidential primary. Harper will be on the ballot for all registered democrats voting in District 3 of Ohio.