Pink wave: Women poised for political leadership in 2018 midterms

Pink wave: Women poised for political leadership in 2018 midterms
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D) - The 29-year-old Bronx native is a political newcomer who stunned 10 term incumbent Joseph Crowley in the primaries. She could become one of the youngest women elected to Congress. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

(RNN) – Women could be having a history-making moment in the 2018 midterms, potentially increasing their representation in Congress.

A record number are running for the House, Senate, governor’s positions, and still more are running for state and local offices, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers Eagleton Institute of Politics.

Among those in the running is Kim Schrier, a physician, who is focusing on access to healthcare - one of the key Democratic messages this midterm - as she runs for an open U.S. House seat in Washington state.

She is one of four Democratic women physicians running for office in 2018, the Associated Press reported.

“I don’t think there’s anything radical about wanting people in this country to have health care,” Schrier said at a debate with Republican opponent Dino Rossi, a longtime state lawmaker.

Of the 529 women who ran for the U.S. House and Senate, 260 won their party primary - 237 for the House and 23 for the Senate.

Currently, the House has 84 women; the Senate, 23. Most running for the House are Democrats - 185 versus 52 Republicans.

Democratic grassroots groups such as Emily’s List are recruiting and training Democratic women to run for office around the country. They seek to increase the voices of women, who traditionally have been underrepresented in state and national government.

Even though women make up half the population of the U.S., they only make up about 20 percent of Congress.

“Our vision is a government that reflects the people it serves, and decision makers who genuinely and enthusiastically fight for greater opportunity and better lives for the Americans they represent,” Emily’s List said.

According to The Representation Project, the U.S. is 33rd among the 49 highest-income countries when it comes to political representation of women.

Resistance to President Donald Trump has served as apparent motivation for some women to run. Emily’s List said more than 42,000 women have signed up to run for office after the 2016 election.

Women are also a factor in governor’s race throughout the nation - 16 women are on the ballot, including 12 Democrats and four Republicans.

Among the most-watched of the governor’s race is a nail biter in Georgia. Democrat Stacey Abrams is facing Republican Brian Kemp.

If elected, she will be the first black women elected as governor anywhere in the U.S.

Women running for office are doing so despite the obstacles in their way - misogyny, harassment and threats of violence.

Erin Schrode, who ran and lost in the 2016 Democratic Congressional primary, received tens of thousands of hate messages - including threats of gang rape and anti-Semitic messages - four days before the August primary, she told The New York Times.

Iowa Democrat Kim Weaver said misogynist abuse, anti-Semitism and death threats drove her out of the race against U.S. Rep. Steve King in 2017, the Des Moines Register reported.

King blamed her departure from the race on Democrats, and claimed the threats were a fabrication.

But you don’t have to be a Democratic woman to get harassment. Morgan Zegers, a Republican seeking a seat on the NY general assembly, said she’s been called a “GOP Stepford wife” and has gotten a number of vulgar messages on social media, she told the New York Times.

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