By: Pat Mitchell
The 2018 election ushered in a historic number of female lawmakers to the U.S. House of Representatives. It was exciting and inspiring to see so many women — 102 out of 435 members — take their seats in one of the most diverse congressional classes ever.
As Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minn.), the first LGBTQ+ mom elected to Congress told the Washington Post in 2018, “When people ask me, ‘What is the significance of so many women and mothers being in the U.S. Congress?’ you know, it’s great for young girls that they see this representation. But maybe it’s even more important that my four sons grow up in a world where women are fully representing them. This is the new normal for them, that women are at the policymaking table.”
To that end, let’s get more women at the table in 2020!
A recent 19th News(letter) reports that “there are now 296 women — 202 Democrats and 94 Republicans — on House ballots in November and at least 51 races with two women, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.”
So this week, I’m highlighting five women of color running for the House. Let’s give them a lift in the coming days and weeks. (I’ll be featuring more women running for the House in an upcoming post.)
GEORGIA – LUCY MCBATH
When she won the seat in 2018, Lucy McBath was the first African American woman ever to do so in the 6th GA District. Lucy is running against Republican Karen Handel again this year. 2018 was a close race and this year will likely be close as well, although Lucy is 3 points ahead in the latest poll.
“I promised I would always be a mother on a mission to save the lives of children from across America… Too often we are told that we must accept these tragedies. I refuse to accept that.” — Rep. Lucy McBath
Lucy became active in politics after her son, Jordan Davis, was shot and killed for “playing his music too loudly” in a gas station parking lot in 2012. She started out advocating for the gun safety laws that could have protected her son and as an elected official has become one of the House Democratic Caucus’s most important voices on gun control legislation. Her focus issues also include accessible health care, better and more affordable public education, and caring for our veterans. Lucy McBath is fed up with systemic racism and other inequities, and in Congress she fearlessly showcases what it means to ‘Woman Up’ through the policies and bills she supports. To support Lucy’s reelection, visit her campaign page.
TEXAS – GINA ORTIZ-JONES
In 2018, Democrat Gina Ortiz-Jones was narrowly defeated by Republican Will Hurd. (She lost by less than 1,000 votes.) In a surprise announcement earlier this year, Hurd, the last remaining Black Republican serving in the House, announced that he would not seek re-election.
The race this year is again razor thin. Recent polls have Gina up by just one point. If she wins, Gina will make history as the first Asian American, openly LGBTQ+ individual, and female Iraq War veteran to represent Texas.
Gina was raised by a single mother and grew up in subsidized housing. After receiving an Air Force ROTC scholarship, she earned a Bachelors and Masters in Economics, served as an intelligence officer in the Air Force and as the director of investment at the Office of Services and Investment in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Gina is a proud veteran who pledges to fight for expanding economic opportunity, responsible immigration reform and bringing broadband services to rural communities in her district. Gina says, “My service [to my country is] possible because my country and community invested in me.” To learn more about Gina and her policies, visit her campaign page.
ILLINOIS – LAUREN UNDERWOOD
Illinois’ Lauren Underwood became the youngest Black woman ever elected to Congress in 2018. She says she saw that change was needed in her community and, rather than wait for someone else to step up, decided to run for office herself. (You can see more of Lauren’s campaign for office in 2018 in the new documentary, Surge, which premieres this week on Showtime.)
Lauren has already sponsored several bills, many related to health care, because of her background as a nurse. She also is working to eliminate the digital divide, which has become a critical issue during the pandemic. More than one million people in Illinois do not have internet access, and 56% of rural Illinoisans do not have broadband connectivity. Without access, families have been forced to download school work from school buses used as wifi hotspotsand school parking lots. Lauren wrote the Accessible Affordable Internet for All Act, a bill that “will help keep our communities connected and close the digital gap.”
Watch a video of Rep. John Lewis talking with Lauren in 2019 offering advice and passing the torch to, as he put it, a young leader on the rise. To read more about Lauren and her other focus issues, visit her campaign page.
KANSAS – SHARICE DAVIDS
The race in Kansas’ 3rd District is among the 51 House races that offer two women on the ballot. Incumbent Sharice Davids is not one to back down from a tough fight. She’s an Army brat raised by a single mother, a lawyer and a former mixed martial artist.
Sharice has proven she is a woman who speaks up for those who don’t have the means or the access to do it themselves. She often says she wants to be called a “representative” not a congresswoman, because representing people is what she went to Washington to do.
Sharice is a member of the Ho-Chunk nation and is the first Native American woman ever elected to Congress. In Kansas, she made history as the first openly LGBTQ+ member of the state’s congressional delegation. Since her election in 2018, Sharice has sponsored 11 bills and co-sponsored 265, among which include the Successful Entrepreneurship for Reservists and Veterans Act, the Count the Vote Act, the Break the Cycle of Violence Act, and the Smithsonian Women’s History Museum Act. She occasionally posts pictures from her martial arts and MMA fighting days on social media, lightheartedly reminding us that her strength to fight for the underrepresented is more than just political, it’s personal. Learn more about Sharice’s fighting spirit on her campaign page.
NORTH CAROLINA – PAT TIMMONS-GOODSON
The 8th District of North Carolina was recently redrawn on the congressional map, making a once solidly Republican district now an even playing field for both parties. Incumbent Richard Hudson is polling two points ahead, but the redraw means this race is still very much up in the air.
Pat Timmons-Goodson is a woman who has been shaking up the status quo her entire life. She was the first Black woman to receive a Bachelors and Masters from UNC-Chapel Hill, the first to be elected into the 12th Judicial District, and the first to be elected a Supreme Court Justice for North Carolina. Pat’s list of firsts comes from a humble desire “to be that lawyer that folks came to when they had a problem they could not solve.” Her relentless drive to lift up others is evident in her campaign, from the policies she supports to her promiseto listen to all of those she represents. I believe that Pat, whose name I proudly share, will be a voice of reason and fairness in Congress. Let’s lift her up and get her elected! Learn more about her platform and her policies on her campaign page.
Last week, I mentioned Emily’s List as a great resource for staying informed about campaigns and for supporting Democratic women candidates. This week I want to highlight Emerge, another critical organization working to change the face of politics through recruitment, training and the creation of a powerful network of diverse Democratic women. The Emerge slogan says it all, “We inspire women to run, we hone their skills to win.”
Since its founding, Emerge has made a national impact with more than 4,000 women trained to run and 740 serving in elected office today. That includes five Emerge Alumnae in Congress: Rep. Deb Haaland, New Mexico; Rep. Lucy McBath, Georgia; Rep. Kim Schrier, Washington; Rep. Abigail Spanberger, Virginia; and Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, New Mexico.
Four of these five Emerge Alumnae flipped red congressional seats to blue in 2018 and we want to make sure they win AGAIN. Find out about all the Emerge Alums running in local elections (currently more than 700 on the 2020 ballot) at its website and help them WIN in November.