Mon, Nov 11, 2019 - Page 7 News List

Women keep up wins in Trump-era political surge

Women and people of color are winning state and federal races, as anti-Trump sentiment changes US elections

By Sarah Rankin and Sara Burnett  /  AP, RICHMOND, Virginia

Illustration: Yusha

In its 400-year history, the US state of Virginia’s House of Delegates has never been led by a woman.

There is a good chance that might change soon. Two women are among the contenders for the powerful role of House speaker after Virginia Democrats continued their winning streak under US President Donald Trump on Tuesday, seizing control of both the House and Senate from Republicans for the first time in more than two decades.

“Long overdue,” said House Minority Leader Eileen Filler-Corn, a top candidate for the job.

It is just one example of the gains made around the country by women — most of them Democrats and many of them women of color — who have aimed their energy and political might at Trump since the 2016 election.

The surge of female winners that continued on Tuesday was a troubling signal for the president ahead of his re-election bid, but it also revealed political shifts already under way.

Tuesday’s results also mean women would hold majorities in places such as the Boston City Council, long seen by many as a “boys’ club,” and lead communities such as Scranton, Pennsylvania, where voters elected the city’s first female mayor, just weeks before she’s due to give birth.

A cyclist who lost her job after she flipped off a Trump motorcade won a seat on a county board in Virginia in a district that is also home to one of Trump’s golf courses. In Maine, a 23-year-old Somali American woman was elected to the Lewiston City Council, defeating another Democrat and what she described as “Internet trolls,” who lobbed racist and sexist attacks via social media in the campaign’s final weeks.

While Republicans have struggled to match Democrats in electing and elevating women in office, Tuesday’s elections did show a bright spot in Trump territory.

Republican women were behind record wins in Mississippi, where 12 women — eight Republicans and four Democrats — won seats in the state Senate. The previous record was nine, set in 2016.

However, there is little doubt the increased involvement of women in politics is poised to benefit Democrats in the near term.

Trump’s victory over former US secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton prompted millions of women across the US to march in protest and organize against him and his policies.

Women also began running for office in larger numbers, picking up seats in the 2017 election and in last year’s midterms, when a record 102 women were elected to Congress, helping Democrats win House control. A record number of women then jumped into the race for the Democratic nomination for president.

The latest wins show that what happened in 2017 and last year was not just a moment, but has created lasting change, said Amanda Renteria, interim president of Emerge America, which recruits and trains Democratic women to run for office.

She noted that women first elected in 2017, such as Virginia Representative Danica Roem, the first openly transgender person elected and seated in a state legislature, were re-elected on Tuesday.

“Women continue to win, but we are now here to stay,” said Renteria, who was national political director for Clinton’s 2016 campaign. “We absolutely believe this is a warmup for 2020.”

Virginia has been a hotbed for the trend. The Virginia General Assembly, for centuries dominated by white men, has been dramatically reshaped over the past two election cycles, due in large part to gains by Democratic women.

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