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Jahana Hayes during her victory speech. (Twitter / Ryan Caron King)
Jahana Hayes during her victory speech. (Twitter / Ryan Caron King)

On a roll

National Teacher of the Year one step closer to seat in U.S. Congress

By WITW Staff on August 15, 2018

The 2016 National Teacher of the Year cruised to victory Tuesday night in the Democratic primary election for the congressional seat representing Connecticut’s 5th District. Jahana Hayes, a first-time candidate, defeated Mary Glassman in a landslide by capturing more than 62 percent of the vote. Glassman, 60, is a veteran politician with a long history in public office.

“When we started this campaign a little more than 100 days ago, we had no organization and no network. People told us we had no chance and no business trying to upset the status quo,” Hayes said to supporters during her victory speech. “And tonight, we proved them wrong.” She added, “Honestly, I wasn’t even sure we could do this.” That observation prompted a man in the audience to shout, “But you did!” and the supporters broke into a hearty applause.

Hayes’ story is one of triumph and overcoming long odds. She grew up in a housing project in Waterbury, Connecticut, was raised by her grandmother after her mother died after battling drug addiction and became a mother at age 17. But she went on to become a teacher and in 2016 was named by then-President Barack Obama as the top teacher in the nation. Her enthusiastic response to receiving the honor from Obama went viral at the time. An education system that provides greater opportunities for all children, she said during her speech, is one of her top priorities along with Medicare for all and tough gun laws.

If she wins in the November general election, Hayes will become the first black woman from the Democratic party to hold a seat in the United States Congress. She will face off against Republican Manny Santos, a former mayor of Meriden. Santos is a staunch supporter of Trump’s economic policies, which he has described as “dead on.” In victory speech Tuesday, he said, “A win for Republicans in this state is also a win for the people of this state. It is also a win for the taxpayers. Hayes has vowed to go to Washington, D.C. to “fight for the soul of our nation.”

Below, watch a highlight from her victory speech.

Read the full story at The Associated Press


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