#MeToo & the Midterms (I stole this headline)


Hey, before anything else, a REMINDER: Somebody you know needs to register to vote; deadline for the June 5 primary is May 15. Get on that!

Some interesting numbers coming out of Gender Watch 2018, a project of Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) at Rutgers. Looking at Tuesday’s primaries in Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio & West Virginia: 27 of 43 (62.8%) women candidates for the U.S. House won their primary bids for office on May 8th. And 22 of 31 (71%) Democratic women and 5 of 12 (41.7%) Republican women candidates for the U.S. House were successful.

No surprise, it’s Democrats doing the heavy lifting to get women up to (or closer to) parity in the House, because though women are one-third of House major party nominees from Tuesday’s primary states, the breakdown is very lopsided – 22 of 40 (55%) are Dems, only 5 of 41 (12.2%) are Republicans. And that seems consistent: in the current House (2017 numbers), CAWP has the roster at 84 women from 38 states in the House; 62 D, 22 R. My own opinion is, I want more women elected, because I want my government to resemble our state and country. Congress is loaded with white male lawyers and that seems self-limiting, not the best we can do. But I rankle at the equally limiting move toward identity politics as the primary driver, or as an end-run around a meritocracy. You want my vote, you better come at me with more than, I’m a woman. That said, we know there are talented women that don’t get a fair hearing or the fundraising advantage many of them deserve. And men, particularly white men, who get to just walk in. Some of them are right here in New Jersey.

In the NJ House primaries, women aren’t running in every congressional district. Below (as of 4/13), incumbents are listed first; all but one incumbent is male. The exception, Bonnie Watson Coleman (CD12), also only the 1st black woman NJ ever sent to the House. For this list, women in red bold

CD1: Donald Norcross (D- incumbent), Robert Lee Carlson (D), Paul E. Dilks (R), Scot Lee Tomaszewski (D)
CD2 (Open Seat): William Cunningham (D), Samuel Fiocci (R), Seth Grossman (R), Nate Kleinman (D), Hirsh Singh (R), Robert Turkavage (R), Jeff Van Drew (D), Tanzie Youngblood (D)
CD3: Tom MacArthur (R- incumbent), Andy Kim (D)
CD4: Chris Smith (R- incumbent), Jim Keady (D), Josh Welle (D)
CD5: Josh Gottheimer (D-incumbent), Steve Lonegan (R), John McCann (R)
CD6: Frank Pallone (D-incumbent), Richard Pezzullo (R), Javahn Walker (D)
CD7: Leonard Lance (R-incumbent), Peter Jacob (D), Goutam Jois (D), Tom Malinowski (D), Raafat Barzoom (R), Lindsay Brown (R)
CD8: Albio Sires (D-incumbent), John Muniz (R)
CD9: Bill Pascrell (D-incumbent), Eric  Fisher (R), William Henry (D)
CD10: Don Payne (D-incumbent), Aaron Fraser (R), Agha Kahn (R)
CD11 (Open Seat) : Patrick Allocco (R), Tamara Harris (D), Alison Heslin (D),Mikie Sherrill (D), Mitchell Cobert (D), Peter deNeufville (R), Anthony Ghee (R), Martin Hewitt (R), , Mark Washburne (D), Jay Webber (R)
CD12: Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-incumbent), Daryl Kipnis (R)

In 8 of 12 congressional districts, there were either no women running or women candidates were already knocked out. Some pullouts from where women are/were running:

CD11: Mikie Sherrill vs. Tamara Harris – With Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen chased out of Congress for his own hubris and refusal to engage with a growing, well-resourced resistance movement in his district, the 11th is one of NJ’s 2 open seats in November (CD2’s the other). And that’s interesting because two women are running against each other in the Democratic primary, with one already showered with resources and institutional support. [Dem Alison Heslin never filed]. Tamara Harris, a woman of color, is running against Mikie Sherrill, who got the most petition signatures to get on the primary ballot (by thousands more than even incumbents, except Pascrell, who has only a few hundred less), and has raised by far the most – – about 4 times what Tamara Harris has. Sherrill made some early smart moves, including showing up for lots of activist events targeting Frelinghuysen. But she also benefitted from Democratic Party top-down preference for former military, State Department and intelligence people (including former Navy pilot Mikie Sherrill in CD11, State Dept. veteran Tom Malinowski in CD7, and State Dept. & National Security Council vet Andy Kim in CD3). Mikie  was the first NJ Democrat named to the DCCC’s Red to Blue list, which serves as both a party priority list, and elevates favored candidates above others, signaling donors (especially big donors) to concentrate their giving on listed Dems. I am told by Morris Dem chair Chip Robinson that CD11 county chairs were promised by DCCC that Mikie would get Red to Blue if they endorsed her. So they all did, same day, and without county conventions. 

CD7: (non-viable Lindsay Brown (R) and exited Dems Lisa Mandelblatt & Linda Weber) – In CD7 on the Republican side against incumbent Leonard Lance, Lindsay Brown – who describes herself as a “certified millennial” – raised almost no money, generated almost no press, has no viable race. Very different than how the CD7 race looked on the Democratic side until 3 months ago, when early frontrunner Lisa Mandelblatt dropped out. That was followed the next month by the other candidate early figured for the lead, Linda Weber, who had a bad fundraising quarter, then county endorsement losses, then made a poorly-received accusation that opponent Tom Malinowski was a “tax cheat,” squandering much of her early goodwill. What’s interesting about these two CD7 women is that both introduced themselves to CD7 voters as compelled to get in the race because Hillary Clinton lost the White House. And sadly, some voters pitted them only against each other, and not against the men running.

CD2: Black woman Tanzie Youngblood vs. pre-annointed white male Jeff Van Drew – This is the saddest, most frustrating story in New Jersey IMO. Tanzie Youngblood got in the race early, before Rep. Frank LoBiondo dropped out. And found herself on TIME Magazine’s iconic cover story of hard-charging women candidates (along with Mikie Sherrill and Atlantic Freeholder Ashley Bennett). Then, nearly two months after Frank LoBiondo announced he would not seek re-election, Jeff Van Drew sauntered in and immediately became front runner – over the talented black woman already in the race, Tanzie. Is that because he comes from the NJ State Senate and a runway of legislative experience? He’d make that case, sure. But anyone with a sense of how things work here knows it’s because he’s a product of the South Jersey Democratic machine run by George Norcross (who also greased his brother into both houses in the NJ legislature, the Congress). And Van Drew, who barely qualifies as a Democrat (check this list out) made Red to Blue; Tanzie was passed over both by DCCC and by the compliant Democratic county chairs in the district.

Hey – Follow @GenderWatch2018 on Twitter – a project of Rutgers Center for American Women and Politics & Barbara Lee Family Foundation (love her)

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