Rachel Crooks, who accused President Donald Trump of forcibly kissing her, won the Democratic nomination in her primary race for the Ohio Legislature on Tuesday. And while Crooks ran unopposed in her primary, she’s far from the only woman to have tasted victory in Tuesday’s primaries, which took place in Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, and West Virginia.
Of the 341 women running for state legislatures, 255 secured their party’s primary nomination as of Wednesday morning, said Chelsea Hill, information services coordinator for the Center for American Women and Politics. (That number may change, as some races were too close to call by press time.) Of the 43 women running for U.S. House seats in those four states, another 27 won their primary races, according to Gender Watch 2018, a nonpartisan project by the Center for American Women and Politics and the Barbara Lee Family Foundation.
In other words, more than 60 percent of the women who ran for the House won in their primaries.
“It just demonstrates what we’ve always known: that women can be, and are, successful in congressional races,” said Kelly Dittmar, Gender Watch 2018’s project director. Early signs also suggest that women’s rate of victory on Tuesday was higher than in previous years. Women made up one in five of the people who filed to run for the seats under contention on Tuesday night, Dittmar told VICE News, yet they made up one in three of the people who won primaries.
It’s hard to know, at this point, whether these primary victories will translate to success in November’s general elections for the U.S. House. Just over half of the winning women are Democrats, and many are running in districts that historically lean Republican, according to Dittmar.
“In what we might deem a more ‘normal’ cycle, we would be fairly pessimistic about women running in these Republican districts,” Dittmar said. “In this cycle, I think that the message is a bit more mixed, or at least the conclusion is even more tentative, because the partisan terrain is really shifting.”
Crooks, for example, is running in a rural state district that Trump won, according to the Washington Post. During the 2016 election, Crooks told the New York Times that in 2005, when she was a 22-year-old receptionist working in Trump Tower, she approached Trump to introduce herself. Trump, Crooks said, then kissed her cheeks and her mouth, without her consent. (Trump has denied Crooks’ allegations.)
“I think my voice should have been heard then, and I'll still fight for it to be heard now,” Crooks told Cosmopolitan when she announced her candidacy. “Americans are really upset with politics as usual, and I want to be a voice for them.”
Women — who, obviously, make up roughly half the planet — will still represent just about a third of all major party nominees for the U.S. House from these four states, Gender Watch 2018 found. That tracks with the overall narrative of the 2018 election cycle. Though a record-breaking number of women are running for Congress, they still represented just 23 percent of all potential candidates as of January, according to the Center for American Women and Politics.
Cover image: In this Dec. 11, 2017, file photo, Rachel Crooks, a university administrator and former Trump Tower receptionist, discusses her sexual misconduct accusations against Donald Trump during a news conference with two other accusers in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)