THE YEAR OF THE WOMAN

Di­vi­sive Trump era ush­ers in record for women in the House and more sup­port for Democrats

Daily News - - FRONT PAGE -

A RECORD num­ber of women were elected to the House on Tues­day, nearly two years af­ter women spilled out into the streets of Wash­ing­ton and in cities across the coun­try in de­fi­ance of the in­au­gu­ra­tion of US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

The in­com­ing class of law­mak­ers could have a stark im­pact on pol­i­tics in the na­tion’s cap­i­tal, par­tic­u­larly within the Demo­cratic Party, af­ter a midterm elec­tion that was widely seen as a ref­er­en­dum on Trump’s first term.

Yes­ter­day, vot­ers were on track to send at least 99 women to the House, sur­pass­ing the pre­vi­ous record of 84.

Ac­cord­ing to data com­piled by The As­so­ci­ated Press, 237 women ran for the House as ma­jor-party can­di­dates this year.

Among the new law­mak­ers headed to the House is Jen­nifer Wex­ton, a Vir­ginia state sen­a­tor who de­feated in­cum­bent Bar­bara Com­stock in one of the most closely watched races.

Alexan­dria Oca­sio-Cortez, the for­mer Bernie San­ders or­gan­iser who won an up­set pri­mary vic­tory over a se­nior House Demo­crat, will also head to Congress.

The Elec­tion Day gains by women were the cap­stone on a midterm elec­tion that has been de­fined by the en­ergy of women, on the po­lit­i­cal left and right. Women not only ran for of­fice at an un­prece­dented rate, sev­eral knocked off white male in­cum­bents dur­ing their party pri­maries. They mo­bilised on the grass-roots level and played larger roles as donors than in pre­vi­ous elec­tion cy­cles.

There was also a his­toric gen­der gap that showed women more sup­port­ive of Democrats than Repub­li­cans.

Ac­cord­ing to VoteCast, women voted con­sid­er­ably more in favour of their con­gres­sional Demo­cratic can­di­date: about six in 10 voted for the Demo­crat, com­pared with four in 10 for the Repub­li­can. Men, by con­trast, were more evenly di­vided in their vote.

In vic­tory speeches, women ac­knowl­edged the ground­break­ing year.

“I am so hon­oured to share both the bal­lot and the stage with the many vi­sion­ary, bold women who have raised their hand to run for pub­lic of­fice,” said Ayanna Press­ley, who be­came the first black woman elected to Congress from Mas­sachusetts. “Now, lis­ten, I know for a fact none of us ran to make his­tory, we ran to make change. How­ever, the his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance of this evening is not lost on me.”

For­mer health and hu­man ser­vices sec­re­tary Donna Sha­lala noted that both of her op­po­nents in the race for a House seat from Flor­ida were women.

“This is the year of the woman, and the fact that women were will­ing to put them­selves on the line is im­por­tant, whether they’ve been Repub­li­cans or Democrats,” said Sha­lala, a first-time can­di­date for elected of­fice.

Women also con­tested gov­er­nor’s races across the coun­try. Twenty-two states have never elected a woman as gov­er­nor, and six states have fe­male gov­er­nors to­day. This year, women tied the record for most gov­er­nor’s seats women have ever held – nine – a num­ber that was pre­vi­ously reached in 2004 and 2007.

Stacey Abrams, one of 16 women run­ning for gov­er­nor this year, re­mains in a tight con­test in Ge­or­gia.

The surge of fe­male can­di­dates this year has drawn com­par­isons with the “Year of the Woman”, when in 1992 vot­ers sent 47 women to the House, and four women joined the Se­nate bring­ing women’s num­bers to six.

This year, women not only in­creased their num­bers, but the new class of law­mak­ers also in­cludes women from a wide patch­work of back­grounds, adding to a Congress that is ex­pected to be more di­verse.

“This isn’t just the year of the woman, this is the year of ev­ery woman,” said Ce­cile Richards, who served as the pres­i­dent of Planned Par­ent­hood for more than a decade, not­ing the di­ver­sity among the women who have run for of­fice this year.

Texas is set to send its first His­panic women to Congress, as Democrats Veron­ica Es­co­bar and Sylvia Garcia both won their races. In Kansas, Sharice Davids, a Demo­crat run­ning in a sub­ur­ban Kansas City district, will be­come one of the first Na­tive Amer­i­can women elected to Congress, and the first openly LGBT per­son to rep­re­sent Kansas at the fed­eral level.

While women gained in the House, re­sults were still un­cer­tain in the Se­nate, where there are 23 women serv­ing. As of early yes­ter­day morn­ing, 22 women were headed to the Se­nate.

Bal­lots were still be­ing counted in Cal­i­for­nia and Ne­vada. African News Agency (ANA)

| AP African News Agency (ANA)

DEMO­CRAT Jen­nifer Wex­ton speaks at her elec­tion party af­ter de­feat­ing Repub­li­can Bar­bara Com­stock, yes­ter­day, in Dulles, Vir­ginia.

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