Last week, near the end of a primary season marked by an unprecedented numbers of victories for progressive women of color, Ayanna Pressley won the Democratic primary for the 7th district of Massachusetts, unseating ten term incumbent Rep. Mike Capuano. Massachusetts’ 7th is considered heavily Democratic, which means Pressley is poised to be the first black woman ever elected to Congress from the state of Massachusetts.
Capuano’s policy positions are closely aligned with Pressley’s, and he has had no major scandals during his twenty years in office. Democratic strategists say Pressley’s win is in line with a national trend of voters’ preference for Representatives they feel they can relate to, namely younger individuals, women, and people of color.
In similar fashion to Pressley, several other prominent women of color have won their primaries. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won her primary in New York against the current chair of the Democratic Caucus Rep. Joe Crowley, who outspent her 20-1. In Texas, political newcomer Gina Ortiz Jones is running to be the first out lesbian, the first Iraq War vet, the first Filipina-American, and the first women to represent the 23rd district. In New Mexico’s 1st district, Deb Haaland is hoping to be the first Native American woman ever elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Ilhan Omar, a Somali immigrant, is a favorite for the seat in Minnesota’s 5th district, a win that would make her the first Muslim woman ever elected to Congress. And in Georgia, Stacey Abrams is running to be the first black woman in the entire country to be elected Governor.
As of today, 187 Democratic women have won their primary for the U.S. House of Representatives, 15 Democratic women won their primary for the U.S. Senate, and 13 Democratic women won their primary for Governor. These are record smashing numbers.
Pennsylvania currently has no women representing the state in the U.S. Congress, but that is likely to change as women won 7 of the 18 Democratic primaries for the U.S. House. These women will be running in newly redrawn congressional districts, a move that was ordered by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court after finding that the old districts violated the state’s constitution by unfairly befitting the GOP. The old map enabled the GOP to hold onto 13 of the state’s 18 seats in the U.S. House despite the fact that Democrats have almost 800,000 more registered voters than Republicans.
Last year, Democratic women dominated in the Virginia House of Delegates race, unseating 11 incumbent men and ending the GOP’s 17-year super majority in the legislature. Many of the victors were first time candidates, inspired by the current political climate, running in districts that hadn’t seen Democratic challengers in years. That blue wave, which resulted in a 51 Republican-49 Democrat split in the House of Delegates, led to Virginia becoming the 33rd state to approve Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.
Media resources: Slate 9/4/2018; Washington Post 1/11/18, 8/14/18; New York Times 9/4/18; Mother Jones 2018; Rutgers 9/10/18; The Nation 6/19/18, 6/1/18