Massachusetts has executed more women for witchcraft than it's elected to Congress

VICE News' weekly newsletter following the record number of women running for office.
July 25, 2018, 2:30pm

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Polar opposites will face off for Georgia governor. Democrat (and romance novelist extraordinaire) Stacey Abrams could become the state’s first black female governor if she wins in November against self-described “proud, hard-core, Trump conservative” Brian Kemp. Kemp, the current secretary of state — whom the president endorsed on Twitter just last week — bested his primary runoff opponent, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, by nearly 40 percent Tuesday night.

Abrams, who won her primary back in May, is already the first black woman to lead either party in the Georgia Legislature. (She once served as the House Minority Leader). And if she wins the governor’s race, she’ll become the first black woman ever to lead the deep-red state — and prove to the country that progressive politics can win in the South.

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But she’s facing a tough battle against Kemp, who hasn’t been shy about touting his love of guns, chainsaws, and trucks, especially ones that round up undocumented immigrants. He’s also described himself in every way possible to piss off the Left, including as an “unapologetic conservative” and a “politically incorrect conservative.” A July 13 Atlanta-Journal Constitution poll put Abrams neck and neck with both Kemp and Cagle.

FYI: Lucy McBath — whose 17-year-old son, Jordan Davis, was shot and killed in 2012 — also won the Democratic nomination for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District Tuesday. McBath turned to activism and, eventually, running for Congress after her son’s death at the hands of a white man angry over him playing loud music at a gas station.

Two Cali Dems are fighting for House Democratic Caucus chair. California Rep. Barbara Lee announced Monday that she’s running to chair the House Democratic Caucus, a gig New York Rep. Joe Crowley must cede following his unexpected primary loss to 28-year-old democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

If she wins, Lee will become the first black woman to hold a party leadership post the House. But first, she’ll have to defeat fellow Californian Rep. Linda Sánchez, who’s currently vice chair of the caucus. The two already faced off once for that job in 2016, and Sanchez won by just two votes.

As the No. 4 Democrat in the House, the chair has a huge say in setting policy agenda. And with Lee, that agenda could tip to the left. Considered a progressive icon, she previously served as chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and currently vice-chairs the LGBTQ Equality Caucus.

Plus, as Democrats debate whether to change up their leadership — some are angling for House Minority Speaker Nancy Pelosi to step down — whoever holds the chair of the House Democratic Caucus may soon move even further up in the party’s ranks.

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FYI: In the days after the 9/11 attacks, Lee became an army of one as the only member of Congress to vote against a broad resolution authorizing President George W. Bush to use force to hunt down the people behind the tragedy and future terrorist attacks.

Tennessee could be the holy grail for Republican women. At a Saturday rally in Cleveland, Tennessee, Vice President Mike Pence praised two Republican women trying to win big on the state’s GOP ticket: gubernatorial candidate Rep. Diane Black and Rep. Marsha Blackburn, who’s hoping to snag Bob Corker’s seat in the Senate.

Trump has endorsed Blackburn, a staunch conservative whose inaugural campaign ad announced she’d “stopped the sale of baby body parts,” although Twitter later pulled it.

But the president has yet to officially weigh in on Black’s crowded primary, where she’s struggling in third place out of four, according to a poll released Monday.

The Alabama governor is refusing to debate. A Republican governor is using Trump’s policies to avoid debating her opponent in Alabama. Gov. Kay Ivey, one of just four women currently serving as governors, issued a perplexing response Tuesday to her Democratic challenger’s request to debate.

"Walt Maddox refuses to say if he supports Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court, it’s impossible to get a straight answer from him on gun rights, and he’s all over the map on abortion,” her campaign said in a statement, after Maddox sent a letter to Ivey asking for four debates. “It seems the person Walt Maddox should be debating is himself."

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Ivey also declined multiple invitations to debate during the gubernatorial Republican primary.

How Republican women are reckoning with Trump. The vast majority of the 2,000-plus women running for office are Democrats, since Trump’s 2016 victory galvanized so many of their campaigns. Even incumbent Republican women in Congress are struggling to reconcile Trump’s record on women’s issues with appealing to the voters who elected him.

“The base is with Donald Trump, and he can do no wrong,” retiring Florida Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen told Politico. “He’s going to be hanging on you like an albatross around your neck. Ugh! It is a real knot for female candidates."

Putting motherhood on the ballot. Washington Democratic Sen. Patty Murray won her first campaign for Senate in 1992, the first “Year of the Woman,” by running as “a mom in tennis shoes.” But this year’s female candidates are taking their focus on motherhood to a whole new level. The Atlantic’s Anika Neklason broke down the complicated, sometimes sexist optics of campaigning-while-parenting.

  • At least two women running for governor, Democrat Kelda Roys in Wisconsin and Democrat Krish Vignarajah in Maryland, breastfed in their campaign ads.
  • It’s not just married moms who are openly talking about their children. Single moms, a long-demonized demographic, are also flouting their credentials, as I wrote last month.

FYI: Illinois Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth is ready to tackle yet another hurdle for working mothers: breastfeeding. At work. As in, on the Senate floor. “My daughter's got to eat, and I’ve got to vote,” Duckworth told the Chicago Tribune Thursday. “So we’ll figure that out as we go along.”

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2018 is the new 2020. Technically, Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren is only running for re-election in Massachusetts this year. But the specter of 2020’s presidential contest — and the legacy of that other blonde grandmother who tried to topple Trump — is already lurking. In a kinetic profile of Warren, the Cut’s Rebecca Traister writes:

In the absence of a clear favorite to challenge Trump and the Republicans, Warren has emerged in just the past few weeks as the de facto leader of the Democratic Party, and accordingly, the candidate-of-the-moment for 2020. It should have been obvious: She has the progressive vision and drive, the willingness to go tweet-to-tweet with the president, and that boundless stamina. Perhaps it was hard in the wake of 2016 to imagine pinning Democratic hopes on another woman. But sometimes you need a crisis (or five) to see the obvious, and this summer’s cascade of them has brought Warren’s role into sharper relief.

Massachusetts Senate President Harriette Chandler reads a statement pertaining to embattled Senator and former Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg on May 3, 2018. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

“I’m not going to say we’re surprised at the overwhelming support that we had, but people are upset and they’re worried. Women are concerned about their safety. They worked hard to be able to get control over their own bodies.”

— Massachusetts Senate President Harriette Chandler, who introduced the NASTY Women Act, a bill aimed at repealing a centuries-old state anti-abortion ban.

Lawmakers passed the act last week, after getting worried about whether conservative judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court will spell the end of Roe v. Wade. That made Massachusetts the first state to move to protect abortion since Trump tapped Kavanaugh for the spot.

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The Massachusetts Legislature dates back to 1780, but Chandler is only the second woman to ever lead its Senate. She’s now running uncontested in her 2018 election. Chandler’s advice to women campaigning this year: “Go forth, girls. Go forth.”

Massachusetts has executed more women for witchcraft than its voters have sent to Congress, according to a New York Times article on Warren’s inaugural run for Senate. (Including Warren, the state has now elected just six female members of Congress.) Sure, the Salem witch trials kind of skew the numbers, but still — not a great look.

VICE News Tonight correspondent Evan McMorris-Santoro sat down with Cynthia Nixon to talk about her campaign for New York governor and recent proclamation that she’s a democratic socialist. (Yes, just like Ocasio-Cortez, whom supporters credit with triggering a progressive earthquake in New York.) “It’s a label that I’ve never pinned on myself before,” Nixon said. “But the more I learn about the democratic socialists, their values are absolutely my values.”

Michael Moynihan, another VICE News Tonight correspondent, also caught up with Ocasio-Cortez after her primary win against Crowley, where she explains why there’s plenty of room in the Democratic party for democratic socialists, like her.

VICE News’ Carter Sherman (that’s me) reported on states’ efforts to protect abortion rights, as lawmakers start to worry about whether Roe v. Wade will survive Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Trump’s election pushed women running for office to seize on abortion access and other reproductive health issues as a major platform.

Find me on Twitter at @carter_sherman. Thanks to Leslie Xia for the design.

Cover image: Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., center, cheers on protesters as they sit down inside the Hart Senate Office Building protesting the separation of immigrant families, Thursday, June 28, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)