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We’re approaching the end of primary season, and with Tuesday’s elections in Arizona, Florida, and Oklahoma, more women are gearing up to make history in November. A record six general-election Senate races now involve a woman running against a woman, while 26 House races do the same.
Arizona, a battleground state, is now guaranteed to elect its first female senator.
- Rep. Martha McSally crushed former state Sen. Kelli Ward and former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio in the Republican primary for the seat of retiring Sen. Jeff Flake. With Ward and Arpaio scrapping for the far-right vote, McSally framed herself as a moderate and took a consistent lead in the polls. Last week, McSally had already pivoted toward the general election — which meant bashing her now-opponent, Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, for “protesting us in a pink tutu” while McSally served in the military.
Sinema, on the other hand, had almost no competition for the Democratic nomination, which left her free to fundraise more than $10 million over the past several months. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report calls the seat a “toss-up,” and Sinema currently leads McSally in the polls.
Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick will officially compete against Republican Lea Marquez Peterson for Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District. McSally’s run for Senate left the seat wide open, and it’s a prized target for Democrats this year. If either Marquez Peterson or Hiral Tipirneni, the Democratic nominee for Arizona’s 8th Congressional District, wins, they would be the first women of color to represent Arizona in Congress.
Republican state lawmaker Sine Kerr obliterated Don Shooter’s attempted comeback to the Arizona Legislature, after he got kicked out earlier this year over a sexual harassment investigation. But Shooter says he never harassed anyone and tried to argue that voters were more likely to support a legislator who’d been accused of sexual harassment. He also ran on exciting campaign slogans like “MAKE A LIBERALS [sic] HEAD EXPLODE!”
Florida won’t get its first female governor this year.
Gwen Graham seemed like the clear victor in the Democratic gubernatorial primary just a few weeks ago. But the moderate ultimately lost to Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum in a stunning upset, after national figures like Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders and billionaire George Soros lent Gillum their support. Gillum is now the first African-American to be nominated for Florida governor by a major party, while the state will remain one of 22 that has never elected a woman to the governor’s mansion.
Republican TV journalist Maria Elvira Salazar and Democrat Donna Shalala, who once served in President Bill Clinton’s Cabinet as health and human services secretary, will now fight for retiring Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s old seat in Florida’s 27th Congressional District. Ros-Lehtinen is a Republican, but Democrats are hoping to flip the seat, which includes most of Miami and has trended blue in recent years. (In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the district by about 20 percentage points.)
FYI: Ros-Lehtinen, a moderate and the first Cuban-American elected to Congress, said she’s leaving because she just wants a “new adventure.” But she’s also no fan of Trump: “One of the best decisions I made was not endorsing Trump,” she told the Miami Herald. “Every day, I’m feeling so much better about it. Oh my gosh, I wake up with a smile on my face.”
Oklahoma voters will have a chance to break up the state’s all-male congressional delegation.
Two women running for congressional offices, Mary Brannon in the 4th District and Kendra Horn in the 5th, won their Democratic primary runoffs Tuesday. But Amanda Douglas lost the state’s 1st District — and, with it, the chance to become one of the country’s first Native American congresswomen.
FYI: Oklahoma is one of 11 states without any women currently serving in Congress.
Outside money is pouring in to Missouri. The race over Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill’s seat has received at least $25 million in out-of-state money, more than any other Senate race in the nation. While McCaskill and her opponent, Attorney General Josh Hawley, don’t agree on much, they both say that unaccountable “dark money” has flooded the election. McCaskill and Hawley, who are neck and neck in the polls, each say the other has received millions in dark money.
Cindy McCain could become an Arizona senator. Rumors are swirling that Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey might appoint Cindy McCain to fill her late husband John McCain's seat until a new senator can be elected in 2020. Ducey has publicly declared that he won’t appoint a successor until the war hero is buried.
An American tradition: Wives have taken over their husbands’ offices multiple times in U.S. history. The nation's first three female governors all took the job after their husbands either died or couldn't succeed themselves.
Remember when Virginia’s Leslie Cockburn accused her opponent of being into Bigfoot erotica? Well, that race is a lot less fun now: This week, the Republican Party of Virginia sent out flyers accusing Cockburn — a Democrat running for the state’s 5th Congressional District — of being anti-Semitic. The flyers include an image of Cockburn superimposed over photos from last summer’s white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, which Cockburn did not attend. The flyers also claim Cockburn criticized Israel in a book she co-wrote with her husband. Cockburn has rebutted all accusations of anti-Semitism and fired back by alleging that her Republican opponent Denver Riggleman associates with white supremacists (which Riggleman has denied).
Take a shot every time someone gets billed as “the next Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.” Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley, who keeps getting compared to Democratic darling Ocasio-Cortez, will face off against Rep. Mike Capuano in the Democratic primary for Massachusetts’ 7th Congressional District next week. Pressley and Capuano share similar progressive stances, but Pressley argues, “We will vote the same way, but I will lead differently.”
Her supporters told the Intercept it’s vital that an experienced woman of color, like Pressley, represent Massachusetts’ only majority non-white district in Congress. While Capuano has fundraised more money — which isn’t surprising for an incumbent — the race still looks like a real fight.
Start prepping your “Warren 2020” signs now. Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren published a decade’s worth of her own returns, just days after introducing a bill that would require congressional candidates to release them. That’s a neon sign that she’s preparing for a 2020 presidential run — despite Warren’s claims that she’s not running (for now).
New York’s gubernatorial candidates can’t even agree on a room temperature. Cynthia Nixon and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are set to have their first and only debate this week, and the New York Times reports that the Nixon campaign is already sparring over the thermometer. Since Cuomo tends to like his rooms chilly, Nixon’s team reportedly emailed the host about how workplaces are “notoriously sexist when it comes to room temperature, so we just want to make sure we’re all on the same page here.”
Women in politics are dealing with awful harassment. Online trolls threatened to gang-rape a California Democrat. Strangers repeatedly drove past a Michigan Democrat’s house, slowly. A male party delegate wouldn’t stop messaging a Utah Republican on social media. The New York Times’ Maggie Astor interviewed several female politicians about the harassment — sexual and otherwise — that they’ve endured while running their campaigns in recent years.
Forgoing donations from corporate PACs is progressives’ new litmus test. Popular candidates like Ocasio-Cortez, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Kamala Harris have all sworn to turn down money from corporate PACs. But that pledge may be easier to keep than it sounds: Incumbents generally receive only a small share of their total donations from corporate PACs, and the groups rarely give to non-incumbents.
Plus, there are plenty of ways for candidates to technically turn down corporate money but still receive corporations’ money. The Atlantic’s Elaine Godfrey breaks down the financial wizardry and the symbolism behind Democrats’ “no corporate money” pledge.
Kendra Horn speaks during a forum for Oklahoma 5th congressional district seat Democratic candidates for the group Edmond Democratic Women in Edmond, Oklahoma, Thursday, May 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
“I think that it is absolutely critical for women’s voices to be heard right now. You know it always has been. But I think when we are dealing with an environment where sexual assault and harassment in the workplace and that example among leaders is very present, I think it becomes even more important for women’s voices to be heard and not silenced.”
— Kendra Horn, a Democrat and first-time candidate who won her primary for Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District Tuesday. (We spoke before her win.)
Horn previously served as executive director of Sally’s List, an Oklahoma organization that recruits and trains female politicians, and co-founded the nonprofit Women Lead Oklahoma, which tries to improve women’s civic engagement.
Still, Horn wanted to make something very clear: “My message is not: ‘Elect me because I am a woman,’” she explained. “It is: ‘We need more voices at the table, and I have the experience and the passion.’”
Americans are pretty happy about this whole “Year of the Woman 2.0” thing. Sixty-one percent of Americans told the Pew Research Center that having more women running for Congress is good, including 75 percent of Democratic men and 83 percent of Democratic women. (Most of the women running this year are Democrats.)
Even so, Americans don’t seem to have much faith in the idea that women will solve the country’s problems. Only about a third of respondents think that a Congress with more women would do a better job, or lead to more respectful political debate, or create a more open and transparent government. And Americans have good reason to be skeptical: A University of Virginia study recently found that female politicians are no more likely to be bipartisan than their male counterparts.
The Democratic National Committee voted to dilute superdelegates’ power this week, after accusations that they unfairly helped Hillary Clinton secure the 2016 nomination. Superdelegates are largely Democrats who’ve logged a ton of time in the party (read: the establishment) that they’re allowed to vote for whoever they want in the DNC’s presidential nominating process.
VICE News Tonight correspondent Evan McMorris-Santoro and VICE News reporter Alex Thompson explain what that means for the future of the party.
Cover image: Don Shooter testifies during a hearing in Maricopa County Superior Court, Thursday, June 14, 2018, in Phoenix. (Mark Henle/The Arizona Republic via AP, Pool)