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Wave goodbye to the country's only all-female congressional delegation

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

by Carter Sherman
Sep 12 2018, 7:09pm

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

A record-breaking 180 women have now won Democratic primaries for the U.S. House. But the news isn’t all good: The country also just lost its only all-woman congressional delegation.

Come 2019, New Hampshire’s all-female congressional district will be done for.

  • Men won both the Republican and Democrat nominations for the state’s 1st Congressional District on Tuesday, which retiring Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter left open.

FYI: Eleven states currently have no women in their congressional delegations, as I reported last week. Many of these states lean conservative, but the liberal bastion of Vermont remains the only state to have never sent a woman to Congress.

  • Former Democratic state lawmaker Molly Kelly became the 15th woman this year to earn a major party nod for governor. But the battle for control of the purple state is far from over. Recent polls show that Republican Gov. Chris Sununu is about 20 percentage points ahead of Kelly.

FYI: The last record for female gubernatorial nominees was set in 1994, when 10 women won major party gubernatorial nominations.

The question has haunted “The Year of the Woman 2.0” for months: How far will all these female politicians get? Well, we finally have an answer, courtesy of Politico: As of Tuesday, before New Hampshire’s primary, 180 women had won Democratic House primaries — obliterating the party’s 2016 record of 120. Even more strikingly, women make up 65 of the 125 nominees for districts that are either flippable (by Politico’s standards) or represented by a departing Democratic incumbent.

At least 133 people of color have won their Democratic House primaries, as of Tuesday. All that means — dum dum dum — white men are in the minority among House Democratic nominees.

There are, of course, Republican women running for office this year, but they’re way outnumbered by their liberal counterparts. And so far, only 52 Republican women are nominated for House districts.

Rhode Island’s first female governor is facing a surprisingly tough primary. Gov. Gina Raimondo is struggling to hold off former Secretary of State Matt Brown, who snagged the support of Bernie Sanders-inspired groups like Justice Democrats, riding an anti-incumbent wave that declared “politics as usual” failed to rebuild Rhode Island’s economy. While there’s little polling on the primary, Raimondo scored an embarrassing 44 percent approval rating in July.

Delaware won’t get its first female senator this year. Progressive Democrat Kerri Evelyn Harris fell short in her Thursday primary challenging Sen. Tom Carper, a Democratic institution who held public office before Harris, 38, was even born. But with Kathy McGuinness’ primary win, Delaware could soon elect its first female state auditor.

A super PAC tied to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is targeting some states with vulnerable female candidates. The Senate Leadership Fund is pouring more than $1 million into both Tennessee and Missouri. While Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill is one of the Senate’s most vulnerable members, the decision to divert money to Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s race in scarlet Tennessee means the GOP is probably worried about her chances.

New York state politics are famously outré, but candidates went next-level ahead of Thursday’s primary.

  • The New York Democratic Party sent out a mailer accusing Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon of ignoring anti-Semitism. Nixon refuted the allegations and is, in fact, raising her two sons Jewish.

Bagelgate: Apparently, Nixon doesn’t want New Yorkers’ votes after all. Just one day before her primary, she made the horrifying misstep of ordering a cinnamon raisin bagel with lox and, to add insult to injury, capers. (There’s even video evidence. It’s not for the faint of stomach.)

If you’re confused about Salazar, you’re not the only one. I could fill this newsletter with the slew of eye-popping controversies that broke this week alone. Instead, I’ll defer to Rolling Stone’s Tana Ganeva, who followed Salazar throughout the summer. Ganeva writes:

More than anything, Salazar’s scandal-plagued campaign might raise questions about the DSA’s vetting process as it becomes a far more prominent voice in national and state politics. But was Salazar the wrong candidate for the DSA to back in this race? Or was she unfairly targeted in a series of attacks fueled by sexism, anxiety about her leftist platform, and the obsession with digging up dirt on a hot-shot insurgent campaign?

FYI: Salazar also said that she’d been sexually assaulted by a spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, an allegation she said a news outlet planned to reveal without her consent.

No one seems to care all that much about Lupe Valdez’s groundbreaking campaign. Valdez was Dallas County’s first female, Latino, and lesbian sheriff; she’s now the first woman of color to snag a Democratic gubernatorial nomination in Texas and the first Latina to do so nationwide. But Gromer Jeffers Jr., of the Dallas Morning News, writes:

The contest for governor is usually the marquee matchup in Texas' midterm elections. But this time around, the contest between Abbott and Valdez is being described by some analysts as the least anticipated governor's race in Lone Star State history and one that is already over.

Lacking the money, star power and organization of another statewide Democratic candidate, U.S. Senate hopeful Beto O'Rourke, Valdez has been relegated to piecing together a campaign on the fly.

FYI: Even if Valdez doesn’t win, she could propel non-voting Latinos — a group Texas Monthly calls “the ‘sleeping giant’ of Texas politics”— to vote for down-ballot candidates
.

Assembly District 39 Candidates Catalina Cruz with her mother Rosa Agudelo. Cruz the first Dreamer to run for office in New York state. (Kike Calvo via AP Images)

“When I got up on that stage and I saw over 200 people there, I actually started crying because, for me, seeing all that love, when I was — two decades ago, I was a little girl picking up cans with my mom so we could survive. It doesn’t register in my brain at times.”

— Catalina Cruz, a Democrat running for New York state Assembly’s 39th District, on speaking at a recent campaign event.

If she wins, Cruz says she would be the first “Dreamer” elected in New York state. Her family moved to the United States from Colombia when Cruz was just 9; she was undocumented for the next decade. Cruz watched her single mother struggle to make ends meet recycling cans, selling empanadas, and passing out fliers, among other jobs. Now, Cruz is now a lawyer who’s servedas chief of staff to a New York City Council member and executive director of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Task Force to Combat Worker Exploitation.

FYI: Progressive women running for office in New York have formed an unofficial “sisterhood,” Broadly reported. Broadly followed Cruz and Jessica Ramos, a fellow first-time candidate who’s running for the New York state Senate’s 13th District, through a 12-hour-plus day of campaigning.

South Fulton, Georgia, broke off from greater Fulton County two years ago — and, in the process, built an entirely new justice system run entirely by eight black women. “I really view South Fulton as this opportunity to do things right,” Judge Tiffany Sellers told VICE News Tonight correspondent Antonia Hylton. “We really did pick who we believe were the best in the business.”

President Barack Obama endorsed 81 candidates, the majority of whom were women, in August. Now, after nearly two years away from the political spotlight, he’s back on the campaign grind for Democrats. VICE News Tonight correspondent Evan McMorris-Santoro went to Anaheim, California, to hear the 44th president out.

So, you’re a Democratic nominee for Congress? Here’s what happens next. The latest chapter in Democrat Katie Hill’s bid for victory in California’s 25th Congressional district starts Thursday. Watch VICE News’ special report at 7:30 p.m. EDT on HBO.

Cover image: Democratic candidate for New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District Carol Shea-Porter sits on stage during a rally for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., Monday, Oct. 24, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)