Listen: EMILY’s List upbeat about Dem House in '19

Listen: EMILY’s List upbeat about Dem House in '19

Democrats have a good shot at taking control of the House, but continue to face longer odds in the Senate, according to the influential leader of the nation’s largest resource organization for women in politics. 

“Democrats are in a great position — we’ve got a long way to go, but a great position, sitting here in January 2018; it’s all being led by women candidates and women voters who are ready to take action,” EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock predicted during an interview Thursday for The Hill’s Power Politics podcast. 

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A veteran of Democratic political campaigns and fundraising, Schriock took the reins as president of EMILY’s List in 2010. The organization, whose name is an acronym for “early money is like yeast,” supports pro-choice, Democratic female candidates. The organization has raised tens of millions of dollars to recruit and train candidates and to mobilize voters to elect them.

“We have already launched women in well over 50 competitive U.S. House races alone. We believe the House is in play. We think it is possible to get the majority,” Schriock said.

EMILY’s List has made the reelection of Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillThe Hill's Morning Report — Can the economy help Republicans buck political history in 2018? Dems seek to leverage ObamaCare fight for midterms Dems say Obama return from sidelines is overdue MORE its “utmost priority,” along with Wisconsin Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinMembers of Congress demand new federal gender pay audit Ellison introduces bill to curb stock buybacks Dem Senate super PAC reserves million in fall TV ads MORE, plus eight other incumbent Democrats, five of whom are in states President TrumpDonald John TrumpSunday Shows preview: Lawmakers, Trump allies discuss Russia probe, migrant family separation Seth McFarlane: Fox News makes me 'embarrassed' to work for this company  'Art of the Deal' co-author: Trump would act like Kim Jong Un if he had the same powers MORE won by double-digits in 2016.

“We still have to reelect all the incumbents and pick up two [in the Senate], but with the energy on the ground, I think this is something I would say is possible. It is not easy,” Schriock added. 

To bolster the female candidates it endorses, EMILY’s List hopes to raise and spend as much in this midterm cycle as it did in the 2016 cycle, when Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSunday Shows preview: Lawmakers, Trump allies discuss Russia probe, migrant family separation Giuliani: FBI, prosecutors investigating Trump belong in the psych ward Des Moines Register front page warns Iowa could lose up to 4M from Chinese tariffs MORE was the Democratic nominee for president. The investment then was $90 million, and the goal now is unprecedented for a midterm election cycle.

Not only are more women than ever eager to run for elective office, but donors, too, are mobilized during this rollercoaster political season, she said — including small-dollar contributors.

“It’s been the best off-year we’ve ever had,” Schriock said.

What drives Democratic candidates, donors and female voters is opposition to GOP governance, she added. She predicted the strength and appeal of the female Democratic candidates nationwide will build grass-roots turnout operations and get voters to the polls in November.

“I think this election at its foundation is going to be about two things: one, it’s going to be about Trump and the Republican Party,” Schriock said.

And second are the “relatable” Democratic candidates who are attracting loyal, motivated followings.

“I think this is going to be a year of stories,” she added. 

Asked whether she wants to see Oprah Winfrey run for president in 2020, an idea that picked up steam following Winfrey's fiery speech at the Golden Globe awards, Schriock demurred.

“That speech was really good," was all she said.

She did have a message for the TV mogul, though.

“Oprah,” Schriock continued, “You’ve got to think about how you’re going to serve, and if that is running for president, and you feel like that’s the place that you could make the most difference, then you should seriously think about doing it.”

Her message to Democratic women eyeing elective office, including Winfrey, is to push harder.

“We are at a tipping point. And we can either push through to that new day, as she called it, that vision for tomorrow, where things are going to be better … or this thing could tip back under the Trump administration and Republicans who want to roll back everything that we have fought for," she warned.

On the list of women seen as potential 2020 Democratic contenders, Schriock specifically noted New York Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandCongress must confront sexual abuse of military children The Hill's Morning Report — Can the economy help Republicans buck political history in 2018? Sanders gets best reception at early 2020 audition MORE, Minnesota Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharHillicon Valley: Judge approves AT&T-Time Warner deal in blow to DOJ | Dems renew push to secure state voting systems | Seattle reverses course on tax after Amazon backlash | Trump, senators headed for cyber clash | More Tesla layoffs Judge approves AT&T-Time Warner merger opposed by Trump The Hill's Morning Report — Trump: `A very great moment in the history of the world’ MORE, California Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisThe Hill's Morning Report — Can the economy help Republicans buck political history in 2018? Sanders gets best reception at early 2020 audition Man indicted for threatening Bernie Sanders, March for Our Lives protesters MORE, and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenTrump to nominate budget official as next consumer bureau chief Sessions floats federal law that would protect states that decriminalize marijuana Bank regulator faces backlash over comments on racism MORE.

A Democratic primary field for president, including many famous and not-so-famous male politicians, could turn into a crowded, expensive and perhaps fractious showcase for a party in search of its soul in the Trump era, she suggested.

“If it’s ginormous, that’s a little messy, right? That’s a little messy,” Schriock said. She suggested that a diverse Democratic field would likely slim down rapidly.

“I’m in favor of a good primary where we’ve got a number of folks debating where we should go. I think that’s very important,” she added.


Power Politics, hosted by The Hill’s Alexis Simendinger, is available Saturday mornings.

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