Women break records in Tuesday’s primaries with several key firsts

August 8, 2018

ThinkProgress: Women break records in Tuesday’s primaries with several key firsts

By Elham Khatami

The first Muslim American woman soon to be elected to Congress, a record number of female gubernatorial candidates, and an all-woman Democratic ticket in Michigan. Tuesday night’s primary election results in Michigan, Ohio, Kansas, and Missouri included a number of notable firsts, as women continue to break records this election cycle.  

According to the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), women broke the record for major party nominees for the U.S. House of Representatives, with at least 183 women snagging a nomination and significantly beating the previous record of 167. The majority of these women are Democrats.

That number includes Sharice Davids, a professional MMA fighter, Native American, and openly lesbian attorney, who won the Democratic primary for Kansas’ 3rd congressional district. Davids would be the first Native American elected to Congress if she wins in November. She also joins a record number of LGBTQ candidates running for office this year.

“We need more people who look like the rest of the country to be running for office,” Davids told ThinkProgress reporter Kira Lerner prior to her win.

The wins also include Rashida Tlaib, who won the Democratic nomination in Michigan’s 13th district. As no Republican is contesting the seat, Tlaib will likely be the first Muslim and first Palestinian American congresswoman in U.S. history.

With these victories, Democratic women could exceed the number of white male Democrats in the House of Representatives for the first time in history, according to recent data which shows that women currently account for 32.7 percent of House Democrats in 2017, while white men account for 39.7 percent.

Women will also contest a record number of gubernatorial seats this year. After the primaries, there are now 11 female nominees for governor, including Gretchen Whitmer (D) in Michigan and Laura Kelly (D) in Kansas. The previous record was 10.

The Democratic party in Michigan boasts an all-female statewide ticket going into the November elections, with women in the running for governor, Senate, state attorney general, and secretary of state. This is especially significant considering the Republican party has controlled Michigan for more than seven years.

Over the past couple years, having witnessed the rise of President Donald Trump and his sexist rhetoric, many women, particularly Democrats, have been motivated to run for office.

“We’ve never seen anything like this. Ever seen anything like this,” Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILYs List, told NPR in February. Schriock added that her organization, which recruits and trains women candidates, this year received more than 30,000 requests for information about running for public office.

“I’ve often thought that if you were an organizer out there trying to organize what is called the resistance or the women organizing the women who are thinking about running,” CAWP director Deborah Walsh said, according to NPR, “Donald Trump is the gift that keeps on giving in terms of motivation to stay engaged and stay involved and not lose your enthusiasm.”