A Missouri woman from the Bernie Sanders wing of the liberal movement says she has been laying the groundwork for months to challenge Sen. Claire McCaskill in the Democratic primary next year, and she thinks she has a "really good chance" to win.
Angelica Earl, a 31 year old making her first foray into politics, has hired Sanders-aligned marketing firm Revolution Funding, which raised millions of dollars assisting the Sanders presidential campaign, to promote her campaign. She announced she was running on Wednesday, but says the campaign is already ready to make its "push."
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"I've been running for five months now, just keeping everything on the down low getting everything situated," Earl told the Washington Free Beacon. "I feel like at this point I have enough of a team together that it's time for a push."
Earl says she has a campaign manager, treasurer, and field teams situated across the state already. She knows it will be a challenge to beat an incumbent Democrat but says the support she has received has convinced her there's a chance.
"Everything is moving very smoothly—there is an awful lot of support, it's uplifting," she said.
Earl, who worked in a processing center for a Missouri Obamacare exchange before she was recently laid off, plans to center her campaign around her call for a single-payer, "health care for all" system.
"I have been able to talk to hundreds of people directly about there insurance," Earl said. "I've heard everything, and now it's kind of a no-brainer."
McCaskill has been noncommittal about her support for single-payer. Earlier this year she said she couldn't support single-payer, but last week she said she would "consider" it if prices could be controlled.
Earl said specifically that McCaskill's call to seek out a bipartisan solution with Senate Republicans was "unacceptable."
"McCaskill said she wants to come to a bipartisan agreement with the Republicans and meet in the middle," Earl said. "To me, meet in the middle means that you're kicking millions of people off their health care—that's unacceptable."
"She should constantly be defending the working people and the lower class, and that means making sure we have health coverage."
She also complained that McCaskill is "letting insurance companies have a say in her decision-making process."
Like Sanders, Earl plans to pay for single-payer by making "corporations pay their fair share." She said McCaskill must support single-payer, and making corporations pay for it, for her health care policy to be acceptable.
Earl said she "doesn't know what's going on in McCaskill's head that’s causing her to have the views she has at this point," and it doesn't seem like she is listening to the people speaking out in her town halls.
"There are lots of Missourians who have stood up and gotten in her face about their views and what they need, and she is not responding to them," Earl said.
"The town halls are not moving her in a positive direction with the constituents," she added. "People just don't feel like she's there for them."
Katie Tillman, who raised $1.8 million for Sanders delegates in 2016 and launched Revolution Funding to continue her grassroots fundraising work, says the whole goal of the organization is to fund candidates like Earl, who was thoroughly vetted to ensure that she aligned with the "Sanders revolution."
"Our company was built through our delegate fundraising effort last year," Tillman told the Washington Free Beacon. "People kept asking me to fundraise, so I took the same idea of what we did then, and turned it into candidates."
"Bernie told everybody to stand up and get involved," Tillman said. "Earl has got a big run ahead of her against McCaskill, and we want to be her support system."
Tillman said she had no concerns over Earl's political inexperience, saying, "it's important that we push the limits and stand up for what we believe in," and "when Earl speaks, you can tell she knows what she's talking about."
Tillman said Revolution Funding's main focus is assisting with fundraising, but she has offered Earl assistance from the connections she made during the 2016 election.
Earl's campaign will not be focused solely on health care. She also says that McCaskill is failing the state by "applauding" environmental roll back and keeping the state reliant on the coal industry rather than transitioning to renewable energy.
"I think that Missourians are ready for single-payer health care, medicinal marijuana, criminal justice reform, environmental protections, renewable energy," Earl said. "McCaskill's platform is not those things."
Earl admits she has voted for McCaskill in the past. She also admitted she voted for Hillary Clinton last November.
"Sadly, yes I did," Earl said when asked of her presidential vote. "It took me a long time to fill in her bubble. I had to walk away from my ballot and take a breath."
She says she now considers herself, like Sanders, an Independent.
Democratic Party officials have reportedly been alarmed by Sanders's full embrace of single-payer and fear it could spark a wave of primary opponents for incumbent senators who refuse to embrace the policy.
Sanders is yet to clearly indicate whether he will support primary challengers that embrace single-payer.
The Missouri Democratic Party did not respond to a request for comment on Earl's run.
"I am very positive Missourians are ready for single-payer," Earl said. "With the overwhelming support I have received in the past few months, I think we have a really good chance at winning this for the people."