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She's Running: A new way to follow the women making history in 2018

Sign up for our newsletter tracking the political wave.

by Alexa Liautaud
Jul 18 2018, 4:50pm

More women than ever are running for political office. Sign up for our newsletter following them.

Why this year is historic. President Donald Trump’s election paradoxically helped launch the “Year of the Woman” — and that momentum has carried into 2018 in a big way. Between Congressional and state-level races, more than 2,000 women are running for office right now. They’re veterans, single moms, athletes, refugees, Democrats, and Republicans.

But the unprecedented numbers also make it nearly impossible to keep track of the historic political wave. So every week, VICE News will bring the essential news on the campaigns straight to your inbox: polling, fundraising, and stories of what it’s like running for office as a woman in 2018. Sign up here.

VICE News is also following a group of female candidates on the campaign trail in a long-form video series, and we'll have more coverage on HBO. More information on that to come.

And now, on to the candidates.

Another surprise win in New York. Political stunner Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had a whirlwind week — and not just because she won a primary she hadn’t even entered. The democratic socialist candidate launched a Twitter feud against Rep. Joe Crowley, the incumbent she beat in her Congressional district’s primary.

She’s accusing him of building up a third-party bid to challenge her again in November, but Crowley denied that he’s running — although his name is still on the ballot (for various reasons).

More democratic socialists in the game. New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon identified herself as a democratic socialist for the first time to Politico last Tuesday. She now joins the ranks of a growing movement ignited by Ocasio-Cortez’s unlikely victory.

The same day, Nixon published a campaign video featuring incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo — who holds a 35-point lead over her — loudly telling a female reporter he wants to “see her eat [a] whole sausage” alongside Nixon discussing her steadfast support of reproductive rights. She also held up a wire hanger at a New York rally as a symbol of her mother’s illegal abortion in the 1960s.

Side note: Watch VICE News’ interview 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.

The race to replace Corker. Tennessee Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn tweeted Sunday that she’s raised over $2.6 million in the second quarter. That cash puts her narrowly ahead of her opponent, lone Democrat Phil Bredesen, in the bid for retiring Sen. Bob Corker’s seat — at least in fundraising; polling results have been mixed. “Anyone who thinks Marsha Blackburn can’t win a general election is just a plain sexist pig,” Blackburn’s campaign said at the time. “We aren’t worried about these ego-driven, tired old men.”

Dianne Feinstein got denied. The Democratic Party of California on Saturday endorsed state Sen. Kevin de León over Dianne Feinstein, a 26-year veteran of the Senate, in an overwhelming rejection of the lead Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Of the 333 members on the executive board, only 22 voted for Feinstein. But her campaign manager still expressed confidence she’ll win the general election after landing her party’s nomination by a margin of 2.1 million votes in June. When asked by Politico why, after decades of political leadership, Feinstein couldn’t earn her party’s endorsement, the 85-year-old replied: “Well, that thought occurred to me — but I wiped it out of my mind completely.”

Democratic women have harsh words for Kavanaugh. Several Dem women running for office have spoken out against President Trump’s Supreme Court justice nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, since his nomination last Tuesday.

  • "The Supreme Court vacancy is the most consequential in our lifetime, but this nominee is from an A-list of extremists, out of touch with reality," said Deb Haaland, a Democrat running for Congress in New Mexico’s 1st District.
  • "We need a strong Congress to represent the voice of the people — 72 percent of whom support Roe v. Wade — against biased judges who might gut our reproductive rights. If you care about these rights as well as voting rights, workers' rights, and more, vote this November. #KavanaughSCOTUS," tweeted Lauren Underwood, a Democrat running for Congress in Illinois’ 14th District.

Side note: Haaland won her district’s primary back in June and could become the first female Native American in Congress.

Veteran women are raising top dollar. Three top candidates have all raised more than $750,000 in the second quarter, according to Mic. That could be a game-changer for Democrats hoping to flip the House. At least 32 female veterans are running for Congress, 25 of whom are Democrats, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. Air Force veteran Gina Ortiz-Jones, a Democrat running for Congress in Texas’ 23rd District, raised more than $1.2 million in second-quarter funding.

Her, too. Female candidates are embracing the #MeToo rmovement and sharing harrowing stories of sexual harassment and assault in their campaigns. NBC News detailed the experiences of several women, both Republican and Democrat, and the positive responses from their constituents.

  • Republican Rep. Martha McSally, who’s running for Sen. Jeff Flake’s seat in Arizona, said she had been sexually abused by a high school coach.
  • Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat running for governor in Michigan, made a #MeToo video in October 2017 after revealing in a speech to state lawmakers in 2013 that she’d been raped in college.
U.S. House 4th district Democratic primary candidate activist Sol A. Flores, speaks before the Chicago Sun-Times editorial board in Chicago, on Jan. 10, 2018. (Rich Hein/Sun Times via AP)

"I didn’t tell anyone that a man living with us would come into my bedroom when I was asleep and lift my nightgown."

— Sol Flores, a Democratic Congressional candidate for Illinois' 4th District when she shared her story of childhood sexual abuse in a campaign video.

The number of women in elected office has steadily increased over the past 18 years, according to the Center for American Women and Politics. In 2001, women made up 13.6 percent of the U.S. Congress, compared to 20 percent in 2018. But in statehouses, the percentage of women has slightly declined, from 27.6 percent in 2001 to 23.1 percent in 2018.

We followed Katie Hill, a young Democrat running for Congress in L.A.’s most conservative district. Watch her lead “the most millennial campaign ever” (and explain why she feels “like an asshole” doing it).

Single moms running for office are tired of hearing the same question: “Who’s taking care of your kids tonight?” Nearly 9.5 million women in the U.S. are raising children alone, but only a handful have ever served in Congress. Meet several single moms running for office here.

Women kinda crushed it in this year’s early primaries: Congress could get its first Native American woman — and its youngest woman. And South Dakota could elect its first female governor. Read about other historic races here.

Alexa Liautaud wrote this report, with design from Leslie Xia.