Women hit streets to turn up heat on GOP

The Commercial Appeal - - Front Page - KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP/GETTY IM­AGES

CHICAGO – Bal­loons de­pict­ing Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump as a baby hov­ered over thou­sands of sign-hold­ing ac­tivists in down­town Chicago on Satur­day who hoped to send a de­fi­ant mes­sage to Repub­li­cans ahead of next month's midterm elec­tions.

The demon­stra­tion dubbed “March to the Polls” are fol­low-ups to the Women’s March move­ment sparked by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s elec­tion. Those marches drew hun­dreds of thou­sands to ral­lies in every state and more than 30 coun­tries to de­nounce the ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Crowds started form­ing early Satur­day in down­town Chicago, with sev­eral can­di­dates set­ting up booths to pitch their plat­forms and re­cruit vol­un­teers.

Ja’Mal Green, who is run­ning in Fe­bru­ary’s non­par­ti­san may­oral elec­tion in Chicago, even set up a punch­ing bag with a photo of Supreme Court Jus­tice Brett Ka­vanaugh on it.

Jane Christie, 63, made the 90-mile drive from Iro­qouis County, Illi­nois, to be part of the march. Christie said she was frus­trated by the Ka­vanaugh con­fir­ma­tion process and that it brought up ugly mem­o­ries of be­ing ha­rassed by boys and teach­ers dur­ing her high school days.

At home, she’s sparred with her hus­band, a Fox News-watch­ing Repub­li­can, over the Ka­vanaugh con­fir­ma­tion. They’ve come to a sort of de­tente: Christie says her hus­band turns off the news net­work when she en­ters the room.

In re­cent weeks, she’s made a small do­na­tion to a Demo­crat run­ning in a hotly-con­tested House race in the Chicago sub­urbs and she’s signed up to do phone bank­ing on be­half of Democrats dur­ing the fi­nal week­end be­fore next month’s elec­tions.

“I feel con­fi­dent that the tide is turn­ing, but I also felt con­fi­dent be­fore 2016 and see what hap­pened,” she said. “I’m ner­vous.”

Dee Dee Mc­Carthy, 62, said she trav­eled from South Bend, In­di­ana, to ex­press her anger with the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion over Ka­vanaugh and tax cuts and also to make amends. Mc­Carthy, who sup­ported Sen. Bernie San­ders over Hil­lary Clin­ton in the 2016 Demo­cratic nom­i­na­tion fight, sat out the gen­eral elec­tion.

“I was so mad about how the Demo­cratic Party treated Bernie that I re­fused to be part of it,” she said. “I feel so much guilt for that. That’s why I am here.”

Or­ga­niz­ers of the ral­lies – the first of sev­eral planned for around the coun­try in the com­ing weeks – said they want to use the mo­ment to get women and their al­lies to the polls and bol­ster get-out­the-vote ef­forts be­fore the midterms.

The Se­nate’s vote this month to nar­rowly con­firm Ka­vanaugh to the Supreme Court af­ter con­tentious hear­ings is en­er­giz­ing women to head to the polls, march or­ga­niz­ers say. Ka­vanaugh was con­firmed af­ter fac­ing al­le­ga­tions from Chris­tine Blasey Ford that he sex­u­ally as­saulted her at a house party when both were teens. The jus­tice has de­nied the al­le­ga­tions.

Women by a 63 to 33 per­cent mar­gin say they are more likely to vote for the Demo­cratic con­gres­sional can­di­date in their district, rather than the Repub­li­can, ac­cord­ing to a CNN poll pub­lished last week. Men by a 50 to 45 per­cent mar­gin said they were more likely to vote for the Repub­li­can can­di­dates on their bal­lots, the poll found.

Repub­li­cans say that Ka­vanaugh was un­fairly treated by Democrats and that anger over the con­fir­ma­tion fight is en­er­giz­ing vot­ers on the right as well.

Some polling sug­gests the road to Se­nate con­trol has be­come more dif­fi­cult for Democrats.

For ex­am­ple, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., who op­posed Ka­vanaugh’s nom­i­na­tion, is trail­ing Repub­li­can Rep. Kevin Cramer 53 to 41 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent Fox News poll. Thir­ty­four per­cent of likely North Dakota vot­ers sur­veyed be­fore the vote said they were less likely to vote for Heitkamp if she voted against him, while 17 per­cent said such a vote made them more likely to vote for her.

Women gather for a rally and march at Chicago’s Grant Park on Satur­day.

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