Netflix documentary Knock Down the House chronicles the campaigns of four women vying to become U.S. Representatives in the Democratic Party in the 2018 elections. The candidates are Paula Jean Swearingen, running for the U.S. Senate in West Virginia, Cori Bush, running for Congress in Missouri, Amy Vilela, running for Congress in Nevada, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, running for Congress in New York. Of the four candidates, Ocasio-Cortez was the only won to win her election and be elected as a U.S. Representative.
All four were backed by political action committee Brand New Congress, which is dedicated to getting new candidates elected as representatives and uniting on a common platform, which included issues like criminal justice reform, environmental reform, and healthcare reform. While a few of the 30 candidates officially endorsed by Brand New Congress won their primary elections, Ocasio-Cortez was the only candidate to win both the primary and general elections.
Directed by Rachel Lear, Knock Down the House conveys the sheer difficulty of upsetting established politicians, the determination to do so, and the huge success story for one of its subjects. Here's a breakdown of the four candidates' campaigns, and what they're doing now.
Paula Jean Swearengin
Winner: Joe Manchin III (Incumbent) - 69.9%
Paula Jean Swearengin - 30.1%
Paula Jean Swearengin ran in the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate from West Virginia, against eight-year incumbent Joe Manchin III. The daughter and granddaughter of coal miners, who had seen the devastating effects of the coal mining industry on the local environment and on the health of people in Wyoming County, Swearengin ran on a platform of advocating for clean air and water, as well as more jobs for people in the area. Swearengin is currently planning to run again in 2020, and has endorsed Bernie Sanders' 2020 presidential campaign.
Winner: Lacy Clay (Incumbent) - 56.7%
Cori Bush - 36.9%
Cori Bush ran in the democratic primary for Missouri's 1st Congressional District against William Lacy Clay, an incumbent who had held the seat for almost two decades, and who had been preceded by his father, Bill Clay. An ordained pastor and registered nurse who had been present at the 2014 protests in Ferguson over the police shooting of Mike Brown, Bush ran on a platform of criminal justice reform, Medicare for all, and a higher minimum wage. She is running again for Congress in 2020.
Winner: Steven Horsford - 61.7%
Amy Vilela - 9.2%
Amy Vilela ran in the Democratic primary for Nevada's 4th Congressional District against Steven Horsford. She went into politics after the death of her daughter, Shalynne, who was taken into hospital with symptoms of a blood clot and denied tests when she couldn't provide proof of health insurance. Shalynne died shortly afterwards from a pulmonary embolism. As a single mother who had relied upon food stamps, Medicaid, and WIC for survival, Vilela ran on a platform of Medicare for all, to prevent needless deaths from lack of health insurance. She is currently campaigning on behalf of Bernie Sanders for the 2020 presidential race.
Winner: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez - 56.7%
Joseph Crowley (Incumbent) - 43.3%
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ran in the Demoratic primary for New York's 14th Congressional District against 10-term incumbent Joseph Crowley. After winning both the primary and general elections, she became the youngest woman elected to US Congress in history. Ocasio-Cortez ran on a platform of Medicare for all, tuition-free public colleges and trade schools, cancelling all student debt, creating a federal jobs guarantee, reforming the justice system, accessible housing, and a New Green Deal to combat climate change. She is currently serving as U.S. Representative for her district in the Democratic Party.