Midterms 2018 and the "Year of the Woman"

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The Year of The Woman

“Women won this week,” Joy Reid joyfully declared on MSNBC on Sunday, in perhaps an understatement. Although that other “Year of the Woman,” 1992, was invoked often in the run-up to the 2018 midterm elections, the latter turned out to be a bigger feminist moment in American politics. According to the US Census, 157 million of the US population are female (50.8 percent) while 151.8 million of the US population are male (49.2 percent). The election was a gender realignment, not so much a blue wave, though there was one of those in operation. "A record number of women will soon be serving on Capitol Hill, with at least 110 female officials heading to the Senate and House of Representatives this January,” Christina Vuleta writes for Forbes. “Making up only 20% of Congress, women are still underrepresented, despite comprising more than 50% of voters. Yet this is progress, considering that the percent of women CEOs in the country hovers around 5%.”

The Firsts For Women

There were lots of firsts last week. "Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn handily won her race to become Tennessee's first female senator, while Arizona is also ensured to elect its first woman to the Senate despite the battle between Republican Rep. Martha McSally and Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema remaining too close to call as of early Wednesday morning,”Elana Schor writes for Politico. “Still, the night's brightest spotlight belonged to the crop of newly elected House Democratic women who snagged their victories in swing districts where suburban women helped pave the way to unseating the GOP majority”.

The pink wave made itself felt in many states, but it was particularly well-felt in New Jersey. “According to unofficial election results, women won about 40 percent of open seats on county and local governments and boards of education across Bergen, Passaic, Essex and Morris counties on Tuesday, and some even made history of their own,” Svetlana Shkolnikova and Sarah Nolan write for the North Jersey Record.

Twenty-nine-year-old Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, an acolyte of Bernie Sanders, is the youngest woman elected to Congress. She beats the previous record formerly held by another New Yorker, Republican Elise Stefanik, who was 30 years old when elected in 2004 in New York's 21st open district.

Diversity and Inclusion

A diverse group of women were elected to Congress. Democrats Sharice Davids, of the Ho-Chunk Nation and Deb Haaland, an enrolled member of the Pueblo of Laguna, will become the first Native American women elected to the United States House of Representatives. In New Mexico, Haaland replaces Democratic Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, and Davids beat Kansas Congressman Kevin Yoder. “The historic wins of Davids and Haaland, and the many other victories for Native American women in elections nationwide, are indicative of an ongoing movement among indigenous people today to decolonize and reconnect to the strength of who we once were: nations with strong women, with gender equity and with women as valued leaders in the community,” writes Sarah Sunshine Manning at Twin Cities Pioneer Press.

Michigan Democrat Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party will become the first Muslim women in Congress. Tlaib replaces longtime former Michigan Democratic Rep. John Conyers, who left office last year amid sexual misconduct accusations. As mentioned earlier, Representative Kyrsten Sinema has widened her lead in the Arizona Senate race as of post time. Sinema replaces Jeff Flake, who Trump claimed in a post-election day press conference the morning after, that he “retired” the Senator.

Monica Hesse of the Washington Post – who hates the term, “pink wave,” – writes: "Maine and South Dakota elected their first female governors; Tennessee its first female senator, Connecticut its first black female member of Congress, and Texas its first Latina representative. ‘Can a congresswoman wear her hair in braids, rock a black leather jacket?’ asked Ayanna Pressley, the first black woman elected to Congress from Massachusetts, at an election-watch party in Boston Tuesday." Pressley defeated 10-term incumbent Michael Capuano in the Democratic primary last September for the 7th Congressional District, and did not have a Republican challenger.

Cover via Politico