It was grueling, heartbreaking and never-ending for women candidates who wanted to make a difference with their 2018 political campaigns.
“And She Could Be Next,” a two-part documentary, debuts Monday and Tuesday as part of PBS’ “POV” series. It screened during the recent AFI DOCS annual film festival, which was a virtual event this year.
The documentary features a slate of history-making candidates including Stacey Abrams (Ga.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), Lucy McBath (Ga.), Veronica Escobar (Texas), Maria Elena Durazo (Calif.) and Bushra Amiwala (Ill.).
Viewers see a campaign infrastructure has a lot of moving parts outside of raising money. Candidates must build strong leadership teams. Phone bank callers, door-to-door volunteers, schedulers and others spend numerous hours ensuring a candidate is seen and heard. It seems the biggest challenge convincing voters not to give up because they have been disappointed before.
“There is an assumption that Black people don’t vote,” said Nse Ufot, executive director of the New Georgia Project, a voter action group. “That Latinos are not American citizens, that Asian-Americans are Republicans, and that young people are wholly unreliable.”
A connecting thread through all six candidates is the trauma or excruciating disappointments that scream “You’re not supposed to be here!”
McBath, now in Congress representing a north Atlanta suburb, ran on a gun safety platform. She lost her only child, 17-year-old Jordan Davis, when he was shot because another driver felt the music from his car was too loud. McBath spends Mother’s Day sitting on the ground at Jordan’s gravesite.
“Nobody wishes me a happy Mother’s Day,” said McBath, who was a spokesperson for Moms Demand Action. “They don’t know what to say to me. I will always be a mom.”
Viewers also will see upbeat, encouraging moments. A big campaign donation comes in for Tlaib when funds were extremely low. Amiwala is enthusiastically told to go for it by her father and the Muslim male elders in her community.
Campaign staff work around prickly issues like knowing that Muslim-Americans are not usually polled. There is the aura when campaign volunteers approach a home where the wife must hide her political viewpoints from her husband.
“Women are political hostages,” said an Abrams volunteer when a woman answered the door and said they were a Republican household. “The husband was hovering in the background.”
The Abrams campaign research showed that the wife consistently voted as a Democrat for years.
“And She Could Be Next” was filmed with a predominately women-of-color production crew. Director/producer Ava DuVernay is one of the documentary’s producers.