A group of female Democratic lawmakers launched an effort Thursday to recruit pro-choice women to run for office, a campaign they tied to efforts to peg 2018 as the second “Year of the Woman.”
Elect Democratic Women will be chaired by Florida Democratic Rep. Lois Frankel and raise money for female candidates within the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committees “Red to Blue” program, which seeks to identify and funnel support to candidates with a strong shot of unseating Republican incumbents.
“Diversity is a cornerstone of our democracy and right now, only 20 percent of Congress is female,” Frankel said. “We need our elected officials to better reflect our country and we can do that by electing more women who will bring different perspectives and experiences, thus making better decisions for American families.”
Other congresswomen behind the project include Reps. Joyce Beatty of Ohio, Julia Brownley and Lucille Roybal-Allard of California, Cheri Bustos of Illinois, Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, and Ann McLane Kuster of New Hampshire.
The announcement is the latest sign both parties are seeking to capitalize on a surge in interest from female candidates sparked by the 2017 Women’s March on Washington, the #metoo movement and most recently, the sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Those factors have resulted in speculation that the 2018 midterms could see more new female congress members than any year since 1992, when record numbers of women were inspired to run by the way Anita Hill was treated when she accused then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment.
Republicans have a group called VIEW PAC dedicated to electing women in the GOP. And New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, the first chairwoman of recruitment at the National Republican Congressional Committee, focused this year “pounding the pavement” to look for viable female candidates.
Such efforts have already paid off. Record numbers of women have run for and won, their parties nominations in 2018, with Democratic women faring particularly well in the primary cycle, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. But women are still underrepresented as a proportion of all congressional candidates and nominees. While 51 percent of Americans are female, only one in five Members of Congress are women, a statistic the newly formed Elect Democratic Women pointed out in its press release.
Women who have won offices from both sides of the spectrum have shown interest in supporting future generations of female political leaders, said Kelly Dittmar, an assistant professor of political science at Rutgers University — Camden and Scholar at the Center for American Women and Politics at the Eagleton Institute of Politics.
“They make the point that not only do they want to be in Congress themselves,” Dittmar said, “but they want to increase the numbers of females in this body in which they are underrepresented.”
Individual women in Congress have previously offered support to candidates through their own leadership PACs, political action committees that can be founded by current and former members to support their colleagues and gain clout within their own party, Dittmar said.
Democratic women have also long had the added support of the fundraising juggernaut EMILY’s list, a political action committee dedicated to electing Democratic women who support abortion rights. There is no Republican equivalent.
Dittmar said the new organization would offer Democratic women in Congress the ability to pool their resources and wield more control over which candidates they support.
Candidates who would receive initial support were singled out in the press release. They include Mikie Sherrill, a Navy pilot running in New Jersey’s 11th District; Lauren Underwood, a nurse running in Illinois’ 14th District and Katie Hill, a non-profit executive running in California’s 25th District.
Florida congressional candidate Michael Waltz originally did not divulge on his financial disclosure form to run for office that he owned a 50 percent stake in a consulting firm that led U.S. aerospace and defense manufacturers on a trip to Libya in 2013 to meet with government officials there.
Waltz, the Republican candidate for Florida’s open 6th District seat and a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, has since filed an amendment to his financial disclosure form listing himself as a partner in the defense consulting firm, Askari Associates, LLC.
The amendment was added to his file at the House Clerk’s office this past Sunday, Sept. 16.
Askari co-founder and former Assistant Secretary of Defense Mary Beth Long confirmed in a Sept. 11 interview with Roll Call that Waltz, who is listed on multiple defense think tank websites as a co-founder and partner at Askari, still has an ownership stake in the company.
Long said Askari produces minimal revenue — and one year did not produce any at all — because their sole client has “a different fiscal calendar” and “they tend to catch up sporadically.”
“It’s maddeningly delayed some years,” Long said.
The House Ethics Committee’s disclosure rules state that any “partner” in a limited liability company who is running for a House seat must report that position on his financial disclosure forms “regardless of whether or not compensation was received.”
It’s not unusual for candidates to file amendments to their financial disclosures since many of them have extensive financial portfolios and sources of income, Adav Noti, the senior director at the Campaign Legal Center who worked at the Federal Elections Commission’s Office of General Counsel from 2007 to 2017, said.
Waltz is unlikely to face much scrutiny from ethics officials over his disclosure, especially now that he has amended it.
“Amendments to the personal financial disclosures are pretty common and they very rarely lead to any sort of penalty,” Noti said.
Waltz submitted his original disclosure July 28, but soon realized he had left off Askari and Campaign Partners, Inc., a fundraising software for charities, his campaign said.
“When I realized I had inadvertently left off two companies, I attempted to amend my financial disclosure the same day,” Waltz said in a statement.
“I apparently missed a field which caused an error and prevented the form from fully submitting and leaving the form in limbo. I appreciate the House Clerk’s Office assistance in helping me correct the issue,” he said.
Waltz left a message with the House Clerk’s office to ask about the status on his amendment form on Sept. 12, a day after Roll Call had spoken with Long, his former business partner, about the discrepancy on the financial disclosure form.
A representative at the Clerk’s office left him a message, reviewed by Roll Call, saying he had not completed the amendment, which is why it wasn’t “showing up.”
On Sept. 16, Waltz submitted the amendment listing his stakes in Askari and Campaign Partners and received an automated email notification that the file had been received, which was provided to Roll Call.
“That is not an implausible scenario,” Noti said of Waltz’ struggle to submit his amendment.
Candidates submit their forms to the Federal Elections Commission, which does not have any oversight over the process but merely acts as a collection service. They file their disclosures on the same online portal as high-ranking federal officials in the executive branch.
“It really is possible that somebody could fill it out and not click the final step because it’s not a well-designed system,” Noti said.
In September 2013, Askari led a contingent of roughly eight to 11 aerospace and defense manufacturers — including Lockheed Martin, Iomax, and others — to Tripoli where they met with the newly installed minister of defense and other military leaders, according to Long, who represented Askari on the trip, and a press release from October of that year on Askari’s website.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce set up all the meetings with the Libyan officials, where they focused mostly on “understanding Libya’s border situation more clearly, specifically with Egypt,” Long said.
Ambassador Christopher Stevens, who was killed a year earlier in the terrorist attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, had asked Long at a breakfast shortly before he died to help bring U.S. and Canadian manufacturers to the country that was plunged in civil war, she said.
GOP Rep. Ron DeSantis, who represented Florida’s 6th District resigned last week to focus on his bid for governor against Democrat Andrew Gillum.
He will be replaced by either Waltz or Democrat Nancy Soderberg.
Soderberg had nearly quadruple the amount of cash on hand as Waltz at the end of the second filing quarter, the FEC’s online database shows.
But Waltz has a distinct advantage given the district’s recent voter history: President Donald Trump carried Florida’s 6th District by 17 points in 2016.
Ahead of President Donald Trump’s visit to Nevada on Thursday, outside Republican groups are ramping up their spending in the 3rd District to help GOP nominee Danny Tarkanian in one of the party’s few pickup opportunities.
The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with House GOP leadership, made a new ad reservation in the district in the Las Vegas media market that starts Thursday, according to a source with knowledge of the media buy. CLF spokeswoman Courtney Alexander confirmed the $2.5 million reservation to Roll Call.
CLF’s buy was not timed around Trump’s visit, but another group did link the president’s upcoming rally in Las Vegas to its increased spending in the race.
America First Policies, a pro-Trump super PAC, announced in a press release Wednesday that it was reserving $1.5 million worth of airtime in the district, which is situated south of Las Vegas.
Watch: 12 House Ratings Changes, Democrats Are More Likely Than Not to Win Majority
The new spending comes after the National Republican Congressional Committee decided to focus all of its independent expenditures on the open-seat race in the neighboring 4th District, where former GOP Rep. Cresent Hardy is running against former Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford.
The Nevada Independent first reported the committee’s spending decision last month. The NRCC had initially reserved $3.6 million in the Las Vegas market.
A GOP source with knowledge of NRCC spending confirmed that the committee will focus on the 4th District, and said the move may have been a signal to outside groups to get involved in the 3rd.
Tarkanian is a perennial candidate in Nevada, and initially launched a challenge to Sen. Dean Heller in the Republican primary until Trump encouraged him to run for the House instead. This is Tarkanian’s second bid for the 3rd District seat — he lost by 1 point in 2016 to Democrat Jacky Rosen, who is running for Senate this year.
Awaiting Tarkanian in November is Democratic philanthropist Susie Lee, who has proved to be a strong fundraiser. She had $1.1 million on hand at the end of the second fundraising quarter on June 30, according to Federal Election Commission records. Tarkanian had $656,000.
Republicans are largely on defense this cycle, but they view the two open Nevada House seats as top pickup opportunities. The 3rd is one of 12 Democrat-held seats that Trump carried in 2016 — the district backed him by 1 point. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the Tarkanian-Lee contest Tilts Democratic.
Tarkanian is expected to speak at Trump's rally in Nevada on Thursday, according to his spokesman Richard Hernandez.
"This move further confirms that CD3 is one of the most important congressional races in the country and that national Republicans are fully committed to ensuring Danny’s victory in November," Hernandez said of the outside groups' spending in the race.
Democrats are expected to fight hard to defend their Nevada seats. House Majority PAC, a super PAC tied to House Democratic leadership, has reserved $2.8 million worth of airtime in the Las Vegas market.
On the same day the Senate Judiciary Committee plans a televised hearing on a sexual assault allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, the eight current members of the high court will meet behind closed doors to discuss which new cases to hear.
The confluence of those events set for Monday underscores how the high-profile political fight over Kavanaugh’s nomination will also color the public perception of the Supreme Court, and could prompt the justices to steer clear of more controversial cases in the coming term that starts in October.
“Depending on what happens with the rest of the confirmation process, the court might feel kind of battered and that it needs to take things more slowly,” said Nicole Saharsky, a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher who has argued 29 cases before the Supreme Court.
Watch: Hirono on Kavanaugh Accusation — Men Need to ‘Shut Up and Step Up’
The Supreme Court will meet Monday for a “long” conference, where justices review hundreds of petitions and choose just a few to hear arguments from and decide before the end of the term in late June. The question is whether they will “look at that list and say, ‘Bring it on, I want to take all the hot-button issues,’” Saharsky said during a panel discussion Monday at Georgetown University Law Center.
“You imagine you’re getting a new colleague, and it’s been a pretty hard-fought, difficult process, that they might see some of these cases — even if there’s a circuit split and even if it’s a really interesting issue — and just think, we can wait,” Saharsky said.
The court doesn’t have a choice but to take certain cases, such as challenges to congressional maps as partisan gerrymanders that are directly appealed to the high court, Kannon Shanmugam, who heads up the Supreme Court practice at Williams & Connolly, said during the Georgetown panel. Otherwise, it takes four justices to agree to take up a case for it to be put on the court’s docket.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if the court at least wants to have a little breathing space after the conclusion of this confirmation process,” Shanmugam said. “It’s been really striking the extent to which justices from across the jurisprudential spectrum have, during this confirmation process, expressed their concern about the confirmation process more generally, have expressed their regret that the confirmation process is not what it once was.”
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, after the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings but before Christine Blasey Ford accused the nominee of sexually assaulting her while in high school, characterized today’s Senate confirmation process as “wrong.”
Ginsburg, at an appearance Sept. 12 at George Washington University Law School, noted that the vote on her confirmation in 1993 was 96-3 even though she had spent 10 years litigating cases for the American Civil Liberties Union.
“That’s the way it should be, instead of what it’s become, which is a highly partisan show,” Ginsburg said. “The Republicans move in lockstep, so do the Democrats. I wish I could wave a magic wand and have it go back to the way it was.”
In July, Justice Elena Kagan said at an event with University of Chicago interns that the partisan confirmation process makes the Supreme Court justices look like “junior varsity politicians,” CNN reported.
“There is so much tit-for-tat for tit-for-tat that goes on in these processes,” Kagan said. “Everybody has their list of times that they’ve been wronged. The Republicans have their list and the Democrats have their list.”
Kavanaugh, who has been a reliably conservative judge on the federal appeals court in Washington for the past dozen years, would solidify the conservative tilt of the court. He would fill the seat of Justice Anthony Kennedy, who stepped down from the court in July after 30 years and was conservative but joined liberals on issues such as access to abortion, affirmative action and LGBT rights.
The court’s last term, which ended in June, had numerous high-profile cases. This term, the justices start without any blockbuster cases on their docket, said Irv Gornstein, the executive director of Georgetown’s Supreme Court Institute.
There are some potentially big cases at the lower courts that could reach the Supreme Court later, Gornstein said. Concerns about the court being viewed as too partisan could enter into the justices’ decisions about which of those to hear, particularly on abortion, he added.
Gornstein said a “big strain” in Chief Justice John G. Roberts’ thinking is that if the justices produce one 5-4 decision after another, with Republican appointees in the five and Democratic appointees in the four, “the country at large will no longer view the Supreme Court as it does now.”
“I think this is an outcome he fears almost more than any other,” Gornstein said.
The next justice could provide the fourth vote for conservatives to take contentious cases, he said, but Roberts will seek a slower pace.
“For me the key question is whether the new justice is going to be susceptible to the chief’s influence at all on whether to keep some of these hot-button issues away from the court,” Gornstein said.
The uncertainty around Kavanaugh’s confirmation, and how long the court could be stuck shorthanded at eight justices, also could also affect the types of cases the justices agree to hear.
Schumer: ‘Professor Ford Is Telling the Truth,’ Calls for Full Hearing ‘Done Right’
D.C. Chief of Police Peter Newsham addressed the public on Thursday about the murder of Wendy Martinez, who was chief of staff for FiscalNote, Roll Call's owner. Mayor Muriel Bowser joined Newsham, who said that Anthony Crawford was arrested and charged with first-degree murder. The news conference was held outside the restaurant where Martinez sought help the night of the attack.
President Donald Trump appeared to signal he might reconsider Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination if his accuser is believable in potential testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. But he also appeared to side with the federal judge over the woman.
“Look, if she shows up and makes a credible showing, that will be very interesting and we’ll have to make a decision,” he said Wednesday as he departed the White House for the hurricane-drenched Carolinas.
For the first time, the president weighed in with his view of Ford’s allegations that a drunken Kavanaugh, during a 1982 high school party, pinned her to a bed and groped her while suppressing her screams for help. She claims she thought he might kill her; he denies all her allegations.
“He is such an outstanding man, it is very hard for me to imagine anything happened,” Trump said of his nominee.
The president again showed sympathy for the accused while expressing none for the accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, saying Kavanaugh has been “treated very, very tough”
“I think it’s a very unfair thing, what’s going on,” he said.
But he also told reporters he “really would want to see what she has to say,” referring to Ford.
Trump said he wants to give the Senate Judiciary Committee “all the time they need” to look into the matter and try to hear from Ford and Kavanaugh about the alleged incident.
“If she shows up, that would be wonderful,” he said of Monday’s planned hearing. “If she doesn’t, that would be unfortunate.”
Trump also slammed Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a Tuesday interview with Hill.TV, saying: “I don’t have an attorney general. It’s very sad.
“I’m so sad over Jeff Sessions because he came to me. He was the first Senator that endorsed me. And he wanted to be Attorney General, and I didn’t see it,” he said. “And then he went through the nominating process and he did very poorly. I mean, he was mixed up and confused, and people that worked with him for, you know, a long time in the Senate were not nice to him, but he was giving very confusing answers. Answers that should have been easily answered. And that was a rough time for him.”
Asked about his comments, Trump on Wednesday told reporters he is “very disappointed” in Sessions. But he did not signal that he might fire the former Alabama GOP senator.
But he did not rule out finding a new AG, saying when asked about removing Sessions: “We are looking at lots of different things. ... I have a great Cabinet.” Watch: Can Trump Resist Lighting the Fuse Ahead of Kavanaugh's Senate Showdown?