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 McCaskillGovernment watchdog finds safety gaps in assisted living homes GOP Senate candidate fundraising lags behind Dems in key races McCaskill challenger links human trafficking to 'sexual revolution' of 1960s MORE its “utmost priority,” along with Wisconsin Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinGreen group backs Sens. Baldwin, Nelson for reelection Dems press Trump for 'Buy American' proposals in infrastructure plan Protesters wearing blue fill hearing to protest Grassley ignoring 'blue slip rule' MORE, plus eight other incumbent Democrats, five of whom are in states President TrumpDonald John TrumpTillerson: Russia already looking to interfere in 2018 midterms Dems pick up deep-red legislative seat in Missouri Speier on Trump's desire for military parade: 'We have a Napoleon in the making' 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 ClintonTrump touts report Warner attempted to talk to dossier author Poll: Nearly half of Iowans wouldn’t vote for Trump in 2020 Rubio on Warner contact with Russian lobbyist: It’s ‘had zero impact on our work’ 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 GillibrandBritish health secretary fires back at Trump over universal health care claims Trump on Dems’ ‘universal' health-care push: ‘No thanks’ Gillibrand calls for DOJ to investigate US Olympic Committee over abuse scandal MORE, Minnesota Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharOvernight Regulation: EPA sued over water rule delay | House passes bill to ease ObamaCare calorie rule | Regulators talk bitcoin | Patient groups oppose FDA 'right to try' bill Overnight Finance: Senators near two-year budget deal | Trump would 'love to see a shutdown' over immigration | Dow closes nearly 600 points higher after volatile day | Trade deficit at highest level since 2008 | Pawlenty leaving Wall Street group Dem senator presses FTC to ramp up Equifax hack probe MORE, California Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisUK Labour leader hits back at Trump: We love our health system Dem senators tell Trump he doesn’t have ‘legal authority’ to launch preemptive strike on North Korea British health secretary fires back at Trump over universal health care claims MORE, and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenGovernment watchdog finds safety gaps in assisted living homes David Crosby: Shared dislike for Trump could reunite Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young Dem senators tell Trump he doesn’t have ‘legal authority’ to launch preemptive strike on North Korea 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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