An Arizona Senate hopeful is campaigning with a Pizzagate truther

More women than ever are running for political office. Sign up for our newsletter following them.
August 22, 2018, 5:00pm

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

More primaries mean more women smashing records. After Tuesday’s primaries in Alaska and Wyoming, 2,669 women have now won nominations from major parties for state legislature seats, according to the Center for American Women and Politics. In 2016, the last time women set such a record, 2,649 women secured state legislature nominations.

Alaska moved closer to electing its first woman to the House and first woman of color to statewide office.

FYI: Galvin is also the first independent to represent Alaska’s Democratic party in a general election. She supports progressive issues like LGBTQ and abortion rights, but she’s also in favor of gun ownership and has largely refrained from criticizing Alaska’s lucrative oil and gas industry.

Thanks to Wyoming, a record 14 women have now won nominations for governor.

  • Former state Minority Leader Mary Throne cruised to victory in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. But Throne likely won’t be moving into the governor’s mansion come November — Wyoming is staunchly conservative.

FYI: In 1925, Wyoming became the first state to elect a female governor. Democrat Nellie Tayloe Ross won a special election to replace her dead husband in office. The state, however, hasn’t had a female governor since and has never elected a woman to the U.S. Senate.

  • Incumbent Republican Rep. Liz Cheney is set up for another term in Congress. Cheney originally won the state’s single, at-large House district in 2016 and obliterated her GOP competition on Tuesday with 68 percent of the vote. If she holds onto her seat in November, as expected, a woman will have represented the district for 25 years. (And, yes, she’s former Vice President Dick Cheney’s daughter.)

An Arizona Senate primary candidate invited an infamous conspiracy theorist on a bus tour. With less than a week left before the Arizona primaries, former state Sen. Kelli Ward is campaigning with several far-right personalities — like professional internet troll Mike Cernovich, who’s known for promoting the debunked conspiracy theory #Pizzagate. He’s also argued that date rape isn’t real, a claim that helped lead the Southern Poverty Law Center condemn him for spewing “male supremacist rhetoric” and “blood-curdling ‘seduction’ advice.”

Ward has generally pleaded ignorance about Cernovich’s views. And when reporters asked why she was campaigning with him, Ward said, “We need to have a hook to get you guys interested in seeing the bus tour.”

Polls indicate that Ward is trailing the GOP establishment pick, Rep. Martha McSally. Since Ward’s other opponent, former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, is scooping up some of the ultra-conservative, Trump-loving voters that Ward hoped to win, she needs to tack hard right to steal them back — and fast.

Nevada’s most famous pimp won’t take office without a fight. When brothel owner Dennis Hof — who describes himself as the “Trump from Pahrump” — won the Republican primary for a seat in the Nevada Legislature, most people (including me) assumed that the battle for the deep-red district was over.

Well, Hof’s Democratic opponent Lesia Romanov won’t let him steamroll her, even if her campaign is a moonshot. (During primary season, she fundraised just $1,045.) The Los Angeles Times’ David Montero writes:

Few people know her name anyway in this rural Nevada district where she is running for the state Assembly. She is a Democrat, and Democrats hadn’t even bothered to run a candidate since 2012, when the Republican won by nearly 30 points.

But the national tide of women running for elected office — a reaction to the presidency of Donald Trump — has even reached this sparsely populated area of America whose lone claim to fame is legalized prostitution.

More candidates are supporting sex workers' rights. Granted, that’s a low bar, since few politicians have ever supported them. For example, just 27 members of Congress tried to stop the passage of the anti–sex trafficking bill SESTA/FOSTA, which opponents said endangers people who sell consensual sex. But this year, a raft of liberal candidates have criticized SESTA/FOSTA, like now-defeated House hopefuls Amy Vilela and Suraj Patel and democratic socialist superstar Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Now, sex workers and their advocates are repaying the favor. Last weekend, they canvassed for New York state Senate hopeful Julia Salazar, who wants to decriminalize sex work. “People will say that this is radical,” Salazar told the canvassers. “That what we are doing today is radical, that what I’m describing is radical. But we all know that it needs to be the norm.”

FYI: Salazar is one of many candidates being pitched as “the next Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.” And it might just be working: As of mid-July, she'd already pulled in $118,415.43 of the $150,000 she wants to raise by her September primary.

Jenniffer González-Colón doesn’t really belong in this newsletter. As Puerto Rico’s resident commissioner, she’s the only member of the U.S. House of Representatives with a four-year term. Therefore, she isn’t up for re-election this year. González-Colón is also the first woman elected to the job — although she can’t vote for any bill on the floor. That’s partially why Roll Call’s Maria Mendez called her role “Congress’ loneliest job” in a recent profile:

While González-Colón represents more American citizens than any other House member, she also has the task of teaching colleagues that Puerto Ricans are citizens at all.

That could be changing, after Hurricane Maria thrust the island into the spotlight and an ongoing debt crisis has kept it there.

“If one good thing has come from Maria, it was that the world and members of Congress now know that Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens; that we have spent 120 years under the American flag and 101 years as U.S. citizens,” she said in an interview in Spanish last month.

Daria Lohman. (Photo by John Wheatley)

“I have grandkids. I have daughters. I take care of my family. What’s different about me? And that’s the important thing to get across. I hope my opponents decide to focus on the fact that I’m trans, because I’m going to focus on healthcare and education.”

— Daria Lohman, a Democrat running to represent the Arizona state Senate’s 23rd Legislative District.

A single mom and Vietnam veteran, Lohman's unopposed in next week’s Democratic primary for the heavily Republican district. And if she wins in the general, she’d be Arizona’s first transgender state lawmaker. (If Democrat Brianna Westbrook wins her race for the Arizona state Senate’s 22nd District, she could also claim that title.)

After the 2016 elections, Lohman said she realized that Democrats had been essentially “giving our district away.”

“I felt like it was time for me to say, ‘Hey, all of my excuses were gone.’ I was not working full-time anymore and I had grandsons. They’re going to public schools here,” she said. “I can’t not run. I was raised in the military, I’ve served in the military, I’m a patriotic American.”

FYI: Most veterans in Congress are male and Republican. But this year, a slew of veteran women and female intelligence officers are running as Democrats. Aside from being more likely to be Democrats, women who joined the military or intelligence branches post-9/11 are now mostly in their 30s or 40s. That’s prime time to run for office, as CNN reports.

There may be a historic number of women running for office, but women voters aren’t necessarily set to break any records. Refinery29 and CBS News surveyed 2,093 American women, with a particular emphasis on those between 18 and 35. They found that while 70 percent of these millennial women think their rights are threatened right now, just 30 percent said they would “definitely” vote in the 2018 congressional midterms. (This may be the most millennial woman thing I’ve ever said, but: Cue head-exploding emoji.)

Participation may be worse for men: The number of female voters has outstripped the number of male voters in every presidential election since 1964, according to the Center for American Women and Politics.

Just under one-third of millennial women said they weren’t registered to vote, while another 11 percent said they “don’t know” if they’re registered. And only 20 percent of the unregistered or unsure group said they planned to register before the midterms.

FYI: Confused about how voter registration works? Get the answers to all of your questions here — and, please, register to vote while you’re at it.

Campaigns, political action groups, and their allies are set to send more than 100 million text messages in the 2018 elections, VICE News’ Alex Thompson reported. The barrages of texts are effective: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign said they helped win her primary. But the government barely regulates text messages. So while they’re poised to become the next frontier in campaigning, they also represent yet another avenue for unaccountable money. Read more here.

Republicans aren’t exactly known for being immigrant-friendly. But VICE News Tonight correspondent Evan McMorris-Santoro met up with some El Paso, Texas Republicans trying to recruit immigrants minutes after they take the oath of American citizenship.

"Often the impression is, the Republican Party is anti-immigrant," Bob Peña, executive director of the El Paso GOP, told McMorris-Santoro. "No, we’re anti-illegal immigrant."

That’s all for this week, but if you want to say hi — or send any tips — email me here. You can also find me on Twitter at @carter_sherman. Thanks to Leslie Xia for the design.

Cover image: Arizona Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Kelli Ward speaks to the media as she prepares to file her nominating petitions at the state Capitol in Phoenix, Ariz., Wednesday, May 2, 2018. (AP photo/Bob Christie)