Many women ran for of­fice: Will they win in record num­bers?

Miami Herald (Sunday) - - Nation - BY JUANA SUM­MERS As­so­ci­ated Press

Gen­der pol­i­tics have been a defin­ing is­sue of this elec­tion cy­cle, be­gin­ning back with the mo­bi­liza­tion by women against the vic­tory and in­au­gu­ra­tion of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

But it’s not clear whether the (hash)MeToo move­ment — and the con­tro­versy that some­times sur­rounds it — will trans­late into po­lit­i­cal suc­cess for ei­ther party on Tues­day.

More women than ever be­fore won ma­jor party pri­maries for Congress and gover­nor this year, giv­ing women the chance to sig­nif­i­cantly in­crease their num­bers in of­fice. They’re do­nat­ing more money to po­lit­i­cal cam­paigns, too, and they’ve be­come a wellestab­lished force in the 2018 elec­tions.

“I feel very good about where women are go­ing to be,” said Christina Reynolds, the vice pres­i­dent of com­mu­ni­ca­tions for EMILY’s List, a group ded­i­cated to sup­port­ing Demo­cratic women in pol­i­tics. “I think re­gard­less of what hap­pens, women have shown that they are no longer happy with other peo­ple rep­re­sent­ing them and speak­ing for them.”

But Repub­li­cans, too, feel the fo­cus on gen­der pol­i­tics could ben­e­fit them.

The fight over Jus­tice Brett Ka­vanaugh’s nom­i­na­tion to the Supreme Court gal­va­nized their vot­ers, they say, and could be a fac­tor in races in­clud­ing the close re-elec­tion cam­paign for Demo­cratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota.

Mean­while, (hash)MeToo’s im­pact has had rip­ples in other races, too. In Min­nesota, Rep. Keith El­li­son is fend­ing off al­le­ga­tions of abuse from an ex-girl­friend that have turned the race for state at­tor­ney gen­eral on its head.

El­li­son has de­nied those al­le­ga­tions. In the same state, U.S. Sen. Tina Smith, a Demo­crat, and Karen Hous­ley, a Repub­li­can, are fight­ing over the seat that Smith was ap­pointed to af­ter Al Franken re­signed fol­low­ing al­le­ga­tions by women that he touched them in­ap­pro­pri­ately.

Like most midterm elec­tions, the 2018 cam­paign is also a ref­er­en­dum on the in­cum­bent pres­i­dent. And among women, who vote his­tor­i­cally at higher rates than men, Trump’s stand­ing is still bleak.

In the lat­est NPR/PBS News Hour/Marist poll, 49 per­cent of women said that they dis­ap­proved of Trump’s per­for­mance, com­pared with 44 per­cent of men. And 51 per­cent of women over­all said that Trump would be a ma­jor fac­tor in their vote.

“Women have been en­er­gized for a long time, and it’s con­nected to Don­ald Trump,” said Karine JeanPierre, a se­nior ad­viser for and a vet­eran of four Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial cam­paigns.

“We are in this re­ally aw­ful time where peo­ple are just tired and ready and there’s been such an en­ergy around elec­toral pol­i­tics, for at least a year since the Women’s March.”

Repub­li­can women say they, too, can lay claim to a share of the en­ergy, par­tic­u­larly in the weeks since the bruis­ing fight over Ka- vanaugh’s nom­i­na­tion. Alice Stew­art, a vet­eran of Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial cam­paigns, said it’s crit­i­cal that the (hash)MeToo move­ment “stay strong and con­tinue.”

“It has done a lot of good to hold men in power and men who have com­mit­ted th­ese acts ac­count­able,” she said in an in­ter­view.

“In terms of sig­nif­i­cance, it is greater than the midterm elec­tions.”

But, Stew­art added, in the case of Ka­vanaugh’s con­fir­ma­tion, the move­ment was “tem­po­rar­ily hi­jacked for cer­tain groups for their own gain,” a tac­tic that she be­lieves ended up hurt­ing Democrats.

“In that in­stance, it back­fired. It gal­va­nized Repub­li­cans. It made them unite be­hind Brett Ka­vanaugh,” she said.

“I say it back­fired in that it reignited the in­ten­sity of Repub­li­cans due to the lev­els that the Democrats would go to, to turn the con­fir­ma­tion process into such a char­ac­ter as­sas­si­na­tion.”

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