Women play pivotal role in delivering House to Dems

Women play pivotal role in delivering House to Dems
© Getty/Rashida Tlaib for Congress/YouTube

Women played a critical role in delivering Democrats the House majority on Tuesday night, with female candidates making historic gains in Congress in what has been dubbed another “Year of the Woman.”

The 2018 midterm election cycle saw a surge of women running for Congress, particularly on the Democratic side, following President TrumpDonald John TrumpPennsylvania Supreme Court strikes down GOP bid to stop election certification Biden looks to career officials to restore trust, morale in government agencies Sunday shows preview: US health officials brace for post-holiday COVID-19 surge MORE’s election and the coordinated Women’s March the day after his inauguration.

More than 100 women — nominees and incumbents from both parties — were projected to win on Tuesday, with 95 in the House and 12 in the Senate. There are another 10 female senators who weren’t up for reelection this cycle.

Of the 28 seats that Democrats have currently flipped, female nominees won in 18 of those races, though a number of top House seats where women are running have yet to be called. Many of these races were toss-up seats where female candidates were seeking to flip coveted suburban districts, where moderate and college-educated women have emerged as a crucial voting bloc.

“Women are the story of this election,” said Women’s National Democratic Club president Nuchhi Currier, who spoke to supporters at an election party in northwest Washington, D.C., as the networks projected that Democrats would take the House.


“What’s happened in this country is that women have found their voice and will find their feet,” she added. “The important thing was for women to lose that sense of ‘how can I, I can’t, I’m not qualified.’”

A handful of women are set to make history in other ways following Tuesday's elections.

Democratic candidates Sharice Davids in Kansas and Debra Haaland in New Mexico are the first two Native-American women to be elected to Congress.

Democrats Rashida Tlaib in Michigan and Ilhan Omar in Minnesota became the first Muslim women elected to Congress. Notably, Tlaib is replacing former Rep. John ConyersJohn James ConyersBiden's immigration plan has serious problems Tlaib wins Michigan Democratic primary Tlaib holds lead in early vote count against primary challenger MORE (D-Mich.), who resigned late last year in the face of sexual harassment allegations.

And Democrats Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia are set to become the first Latinas elected to Congress from Texas, a state with a growing Hispanic population that has slowly shifted politically with demographic changes.

Meanwhile, Republicans are poised to see their ranks of female lawmakers dwindle based on a number of congresswomen retiring or seeking higher office. GOP Reps. Barbara ComstockBarbara Jean ComstockFormer GOP congressman calls for Biden to receive presidential briefings Former GOP lawmakers call on Trump to accept election results Live coverage: House holds third day of public impeachment hearings MORE (Va.) and Claudia Tenney (N.Y.) lost their races Tuesday, while Rep. Mia LoveLudmya (Mia) LoveDemocrats lead in diversity in new Congress despite GOP gains McAdams concedes to Owens in competitive Utah district Poll: McAdams neck and neck with GOP challenger in Utah MORE (R-Utah) was narrowly trailing her Democratic opponent.

Republicans got at least one gain Tuesday night, with Republican state Del. Carol Miller holding onto the open-seat in West Virginia’s 3rd District.

It's also possible that Republican Young Kim, who would be the first Korean American woman elected to Congress, could score a victory in the seat being vacated by Rep. Ed RoyceEdward (Ed) Randall RoyceHere are the 17 GOP women newly elected to the House this year Young Kim takes down Democrat in California House rematch Advising Capitol Hill on insurance MORE (R-Calif.).

With 80 percent of precincts reporting, Kim led Democrat Gil Cisneros by 6 points in a top swing seat.

In 1992 – the last so-called “Year of the Woman” – a record 47 women were elected to the House, while the Senate gained four new female members, including Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - COVID-19 fears surround Thanksgiving holiday Feinstein departure from top post sets stage for Judiciary fight Whitehouse says Democratic caucus will decide future of Judiciary Committee MORE (D-Calif.), who won reelection handily on Tuesday night.

The influx of women candidates in 1992 was driven in no small part by Anita Hill’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee the previous year, when she accused then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment.

Dramatic testimony during Supreme Court Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughFor Thanksgiving, the Supreme Court upholds religious liberty COVID-19: Justice Alito overstepped judicial boundaries Defusing the judicial confirmation process MORE’s controversial confirmation this fall, which was nearly derailed by sexual assault allegations that he vehemently denied, drew many comparisons to the Hill hearings from the early 1990s. Kavanaugh’s narrow confirmation sparked massive protests that were largely made up of women.

The allegations brought renewed attention to the "Me Too" movement, which gained prominence in 2017. The movement prompted a number of women to speak out about their experiences with sexual misconduct and forced the resignation of multiple lawmakers. The movement also drove a number of women to seek office in 2018.

Also driving the surge in female Democratic candidates this year was the party’s intense focus on health care, particularly in the face of Republican-led efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and efforts by GOP-controlled state legislatures to severely curtail abortion access.

“This wave would have been impossible without a strong and diverse class of U.S. House candidates — the powerful, pro-choice Democratic women who fought tirelessly to win their elections tonight,” Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY's List, said in a statement.

“History has been made and we're never going back."

Here is a running list of female nominees who won in seats that Democrats flipped:

– Niv Elis contributed