With GOP mass exodus, pro-choice Democratic women will flip the House

With GOP mass exodus, pro-choice Democratic women will flip the House
© Getty Images

The news from House Republican Chairmen Rodney FrelinghuysenRodney Procter FrelinghuysenThe 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority Top House GOP appropriations staffer moves to lobbying shop Individuals with significant disabilities need hope and action MORE and Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyOur sad reality: Donald Trump is no Eisenhower GOP takes aim at Comey, Brennan House Dem calls on lawmakers to 'insulate' election process following Mueller report MORE this week is just the latest in a string of similar announcements from GOP lawmakers — and I’d venture to guess the mass exodus of Republican Members from Congress isn’t over yet.  

But however long the list of GOP retirements ultimately grows, the increasing number of congressional seats currently held by Republicans that will now be open this year are already radically reshaping the 2018 congressional map in favor of Democrats — and, more specifically, in favor of the Democratic women candidates who are now well-positioned to win back the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives by flipping many of these same seats.

EMILY’s List has already backed several pro-choice Democratic women running in these open seats (and counting) where the Republican incumbent has announced they’re retiring — and we’re busy recruiting and working with women in dozens more.

ADVERTISEMENT

To give just a few examples, California pediatrician Mai Khanh Tran — who first came to the U.S. as a nine-year-old refugee from Vietnam and later worked her way through school working as a janitor and lab research assistant, among other jobs — is running to flip the state’s 39th District, which is currently held by Republican Rep. Ed RoyceEdward (Ed) Randall RoyceK Street giants scoop up coveted ex-lawmakers Former GOP chairman Royce joins lobbying shop Lawmakers propose banning shark fin trade MORE and where Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocrats bristle as Hicks appears for daylong Capitol Hill testimony Democrats bristle as Hicks appears for daylong Capitol Hill testimony Trump: 'So sad' Democrats are putting Hope Hicks 'through hell' MORE won by more than eight points in 2016.

 

In Washington state, Kim Schrier —  another pediatrician who is a strong defender of the Affordable Care Act because of her personal experience having a pre-existing condition — is running for the seat now held by Republican Rep. Dave ReichertDavid (Dave) George ReichertLymphedema Treatment Act would provide a commonsense solution to a fixable problem Yoder, Messer land on K Street Ex-GOP lawmaker from Washington joins lobbying firm MORE, who abandoned plans to run for re-election just weeks after Schrier entered the race.

Sara Jacobs is running in soon-to-be former Republican Rep. Darrell IssaDarrell Edward IssaTrump's 2020 campaign strategy is to be above the law Trump's 2020 campaign strategy is to be above the law Former chairman appears at House Oversight contempt debate MORE’s district, where Hillary Clinton defeated Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpBooker hits Biden's defense of remarks about segregationist senators: 'He's better than this' Booker hits Biden's defense of remarks about segregationist senators: 'He's better than this' Trump says Democrats are handing out subpoenas 'like they're cookies' MORE by seven points and Issa barely eked out his most recent re-election. Jacobs is a former State Department advisor and founder of a nonprofit to expand access to the internet for vulnerable communities and is strongly positioned to flip the seat for Democrats.

Then, of course, there was one of the very first Republicans to announce her retirement, Rep. Ileana Ros-LehtinenIleana Carmen Ros-LehtinenK Street giants scoop up coveted ex-lawmakers Ex-GOP Rep. Denham heads to lobbying firm K Street boom extends under Trump, House Dems MORE. When Ros-Lehtinen decided in April that she would not fight to hold on to her seat — one of the bluest seats still held by a Republican House member — it was an early signal of GOP weakness and a great opportunity for us to flip a seat from red to blue. EMILY’s List is supporting former federal judge nominee Mary Barzee Flores, a woman whose toughness was on full display in one of her early campaign videos, which described her personal experience with sexism and harassment.

To win back the House, Democrats ultimately need to flip at least 24 seats.

Incidentally, there are 23 seats in districts where Hillary Clinton won that currently have a Republican serving as their representative — many of which are now open this cycle.

And even in the traditionally “safe” Republican districts where House Republicans have announced they’ll step down, pro-choice Democratic women are strongly positioned to flip these seats.

Take for example Mikie Sherrill — a retired U.S. Navy helicopter pilot and former prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney's office — who is running for the now-open seat vacated by Frelinghuysen that marginally voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential race.

It’s no exaggeration to say this moment is truly unprecedented in our history — not just because of the many opportunities it presents for wins by Democratic women candidates, but also because many of these vacancies come as a direct result of Democratic women voters holding House Republicans accountable for their votes on health care and taxes, and demonstrating their power at the ballot box where women candidates have already won historic victories and flipped seats in Virginia, Georgia, and special elections across the country.

The growing number of House Republicans giving up on defending their party’s agenda in battleground districts makes it clear: The writing is on the wall for the GOP. Democratic women — as voters and as candidates — are strongly positioned to take back the House in 2018.

Stephanie Schriock is president of EMILY's List, the nation’s largest resource for women in politics. The organization recruits and trains candidates and turns out women voters. EMILY's List has helped elect 116 women to the House, 23 to the Senate, 12 governors and over 800 to state and local office.