Women hit streets to turn up heat on GOP
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.