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The FBI is investigating President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee over sexual assault allegations, Trump is publicly mocking one of that nominee’s accusers, and, oh yeah, there’s just over four weeks until the Nov. 6 midterms. Welcome to America in 2018.
Voter registration deadlines are coming up this week in several states, so if you’re not registered to vote yet, get on that.
And if you plan to be in Los Angeles on Oct. 21, stop by Politicon — a nonpartisan political convention featuring everybody from Michael Avenatti to Chris Christie — some colleagues and I will be speaking about our She's Running series.
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh can’t get confirmed without women’s support. California professor Christine Blasey Ford transfixed the country last week when she testified that Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed, groped her, and covered her mouth at a 1982 high school gathering. Now, the women of the Senate — long forced to police the men of Washington, D.C.'s alleged misdeeds — are taking action.
- Maine Sen. Susan Collins and Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, both moderate Republicans, lent their support to Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake’s call for a FBI investigation on Friday. Since Republicans need Collins and Murkowski to vote “yes” on Kavanaugh, that left the GOP with almost no choice but to comply.
- The right-leaning Judicial Crisis Network is spending $400,000 this week on ads to convince North Dakota Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp to vote for Kavanaugh, as well as the Senate’s only other undecided Democrat, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin.
FYI: The ACLU is also dropping $1 million on ads opposing Kavanaugh in states represented by Manchin and five Republicans, including Murkowski, Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer, and West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito.
Republican Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst is still supporting Kavanaugh. She told CBS that after Ford’s testimony, she believes “the corroboration wasn’t there.”
California Sen. Dianne Feinstein will be investigated over allegations that her office leaked a letter from Ford, Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton said. Feinstein has repeatedly denied leaking the confidential letter, in which Ford detailed her accusations against Kavanaugh.
The hearings pushed Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren to “take a hard look at running for president,” she told a town hall. This surprised exactly no one.
Money is flowing into the blue wave. This year’s third fundraising quarter wrapped up Sept. 30, and Democrats are showing off some ridiculous hauls. In the last three months alone, Abby Finkenauer in Iowa’s 1st Congressional District, Betsy Dirksen Londrigan in Illinois’ 13th District, and Dana Balterin New York’s 24th all raised more than $1.5 million. But Kentucky’s Amy Grath, a fighter pilot running in the state’s 6th District, blew all three out of the water with $3.65 million. It’s getting more likely that Congress will have its first female Native American representative. Democrat Sharice Davids, who’s running in Kansas’ 3rd District, had a good week: Not only did she pick up an endorsement from former President Barack Obama, she also fundraised $2.7 million this quarter. And the National Republican Congressional Committee yanked more than $1 million in planned ads supporting her opponent, Rep. Kevin Yoder, in a signal that Republicans might be giving up on the district, one of Democrats’ targets for the midterms. Polling is scant, but Davids looks to be about six points ahead.
FYI: New Mexico Democrat Deb Haaland, a Laguna Pueblo member, is also likely to become one of the country’s first Native American congresswomen. She’s heavily favored to win New Mexico’s 1st District.
A health care ad is a national controversy in one of the Senate’s tightest races. Republican Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, who’s running against Sen. Claire McCaskill, released an ad (complete with sentimental soft focus and golden lightening) last week saying he supports forcing insurance companies to cover all pre-existing conditions. But as AG, Hawley signed onto a national lawsuit that would repeal all of the Affordable Care Act, including — you guessed it — its safeguards for pre-existing conditions. Likely voters are almost evenly split between McCaskill and Hawley, a CNN poll conducted last week found, but the ad raised eyebrows across the country, especially since health care is a key issue in the Missouri race. McCaskill told one reporter that making the ad “takes a lot of nerve.”
Rep. Mia Love’s bitter battle for the state’s 4th District is leaving the lawmakers of the Congressional Black Caucus conflicted. Love, the firstand only black Republican woman to be elected to Congress, is a dedicated member of the heavily Democratic group. But if Democrats take back the House, several CBC members would be instantly propelled to power. When Darren Sands of Buzzfeed News dove deep into this issue, Love told him:
“I’m always going to be a Republican and my district is a Republican district. But there are too many times where we think about these false choices — that it’s either one or the other, and that’s not the case.”
Could Texas women give the state a tinge of purple? With Democrat Beto O’Rourke’s race against Republican Sen. Ted Cruz now officially labeled a “toss-up” by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, liberals are practically foaming at the mouth. But O’Rourke isn’t the only harbinger of blue in Texas’ congressional delegation.
Former county judge Veronica Escobar and state Sen. Sylvia Garcia, both expected to win in the general, are on their way to becoming Texas’ first Latina congresswomen.
Gina Ortiz Jones is running a more competitive race for Texas’ 23rd District, which the Texas Tribune dubbed “the only true swing congressional district in Texas.” If Jones wins, she’d be the nation’s first Filipina-American congresswoman.
Lizzie Fletcher is trying to nail down Texas’ 7th District, which the Atlantic’s Elaina Plott called a “linchpin of [Democrats’] map to secure the House majority.” A recent poll found Fletcher just three pointsbehind the incumbent in the district, which first turned red for some guy named George H.W. Bush.
Democratic women might be raking in the cash, but so are the men — and on average, the men are winning. Democratic women running in the country’s 67 most competitive House races have raised an average of $500,000 less than Democratic men, NPR reported.
That might be, in part, because women face a bevy of structural inequities. Historically, female Democrats rely most on female donors, but women usually earn less than men and give less to politicians than men. Plus, women in congressional races tend to receive more smaller individual donations under $200.
For Republican women, fundraising can be even tougher: Liberals can call upon EMILY’s List, a powerful group that champions pro-abortion rights Democratic women, but there’s no real equivalent for conservative women.
“We decided that we had licked enough stamps.”
— Texas Rep. Senfronia Thompson, the longest-serving female state lawmaker in Lone Star State history, on why she (and so many other women) got into politics in the 1970s.
But her service hasn’t always been smooth: Shortly after she was first elected, Thompson told me, a white male legislator called her his “beautiful black mistress.” She called out that comment on the state House floor — a move that, she said, later made it harder to get good committee assignments and chairmanships. But when I asked if she regretted it, Thompson replied, “Not yet.”
“I put everyone on notice that I had gotten duly elected, just like they had,” said Thompson, who is running unopposed in the general election for District 141. “I did not appreciate being disrespected and I was not gonna be disrespected as long as I remained a member of that body.”
Want to find out how many ways female politicians made history this year? Want to do it in under three minutes? Milena Mikael-Debass has you covered.
When Anita Hill accused now-Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment, several congresswomen risked censure by standing up for her. Now, almost three decades later, they’re doing the same for Ford, Naureen Khan reports.
The contrast between the men and the women involving the Kavanaugh-Ford hearings could not have been starker: While the women are generally calm, the men were… not.
We reached out to readers and viewers to ask what they thought of the Ford-Kavanaugh hearings, and their responses poured in over voicemail and email. Several college students also talked with us about the allegations and their impact on their campuses.
Angela Wright, who said now-Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas also made unwelcome passes at her, shared her experience and her thoughts on Kavanaugh.
It’s been about a year since the #MeToo movement washed over social media. We broke down the consequences facing the scores of men accused of sexual misconduct.
And if you want a more in-depth look at the 84 sexual misconduct cases that have shaped this past year, Gabrielle Bluestone unearthed them all.
Cover image: Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., questions witnesses during Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on August 23, 2018. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)