HARTFORD, CT — Jahana Hayes might be new to politics, but her two-minute introductory video has gone viral.
Hayes, the Democrat running in the open 5th Congressional District race, saw her first web video garner 5.5 million views in less than a week. Any video with more than 5 million views over a three to seven day period is considered viral.
As of Tuesday, a version of the video shared by a left-leaning website, NowThis, has been reportedly viewed 4.8 million times on Facebook and 487,000 times on Twitter, while the original version of the video has been viewed 154,000 times on Facebook and 60,000 times on Twitter, for a total of 5.5 million views across the two platforms.
A majority of the views came from the NowThis Facebook page, which posted her video, although it is not clear how many times the video has been viewed in Connecticut or, more specifically, in the 5th Congressional District.
Hayes, a Wolcott resident and the 2016 National Teacher of the Year from Waterbury, is running against former Simsbury First Selectwoman Mary Glassman, who narrowly won the Connecticut Democratic Party’s endorsement at its convention in June. The primary is Aug. 14 with the winner facing off against the winner of the Republican primary, which includes Watertown’s Rich Dupont, Southbury’s Ruby Corby O’Neill, and former Meriden Mayor Manny Santos.
Hayes’ biography highlighting how she grew up in public housing in Waterbury remains central to her campaign. The video begins with Hayes being honored by former President Barack Obama at the White House when she was named National Teacher of The Year. The video then goes into her story growing up in Waterbury and being a single mother at 17, putting herself through school and her reasons for becoming a teacher and then running for Congress.
“I believe Congress should look more like the constituents it serves, which of course means it should include diversity of ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, religious beliefs, and socio-economic background, but it also means diversity of thought. That’s what our communities look like,” Hayes said in a release. “I’ve never run for office before, and this isn’t just the next rung on the ladder to me. I’m running to make a difference for my community, a motivation that’s driven me my entire life. Thank you to everyone who watched the video and responded — together, we can and will win this primary on August 14th.”
The video was produced by Hardpin Media of New York City, a production company founded by members who worked on former President Obama’s 2012 campaign. Hardpin also did work for Hillary Clinton’s campaign. The Hayes campaign also is preparing a 30-second spot for television, according to campaign spokesperson Mike Bland.
“We wanted to give Jahana the chance to introduce herself. She’s never run for office before. While she’s known in her community, the 5th CD is a big place and we needed to bring her story to a whole new set of people,” Bland said. “What’s clear is that when people learn about her background, they are immediately inspired. The biggest benefit of the video so far has been the number of volunteers that have come out.”
Hayes’ video gives her a jolt heading into the final four weeks of what is expected to be a close primary battle with Glassman.
Glassman, who has run for lieutenant governor twice and has the backing of the state Democratic Party, also released her first campaign ad of the primary called, “Lots to Do.”
As of Thursday the 30-second ad, which was posted on YouTube July 10, only had 305 views on the YouTube platform. However, the ad has also been airing on local television.
Glassman’s ad focuses on her working-class roots growing up in New Britain, taking loans to pay for school, and her years as First Selectwoman of Simsbury. Glassman also talks about her agenda, including protecting Social Security and Medicare from cuts.
The campaign ads will come at a cost in the next several weeks and both Glassman and Hayes’ campaigns have the cash. According to Federal Election Commission records, Glassman raised $380,174 and has over $270,000 in cash on hand as of June 30. Hayes, who came to the race late at the urging of Sen. Chris Murphy, raised $295,236 and has approximately $254,000 on hand.