As Sandra Fluke Runs For Congress, Five Democratic Careers Fired Up By Republican Drama

Believe it or not, Republican drama just keeps giving rise to Democratic careers. With Tuesday's news that Sandra Fluke is running for Congress in California this year, the GOP has in one sense lived up to their core promise: job creation. After all, they do often succeed wildly in creating new jobs for Democrats. Would you have heard of Wendy Davis without Texas' ridiculous abortion restrictions?

Everywhere you look, there's another liberal or left-leaning political figure getting a helpful career bump from the right's fervency, virulent rhetoric, and often intractable policies. Fluke isn't the only one who's reaped success thanks to the Grand Old Party's tact (or lack thereof). Here are five figures whose career trajectories were given a helping hand by the GOP...

Sandra Fluke

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In February 2012, Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke was invited by Democrats to speak to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee about the health insurance contraception mandate.

Republicans, however, decided they were cool without any pro-birth control women around. Then, Rush Limbaugh started calling Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute,” revealing he didn’t get how birth control works, and creepily suggesting she should have to provide videos of her sex life if she wants contraceptive coverage.

The controversy surged Fluke’s already-rising profile higher still, and now, in 2014, she’s planning a run for the U.S. House of Representatives.

Al Franken

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Senator Al Franken wasn’t always a serious-minded man of the Congress. He was a comedian, a longtime performer on Saturday Night Live, and an author. After Franken published Lies And The Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair And Balanced Look At The Right, with a blotchy-faced Bill O’Reilly splashed across the cover, the outrage-prone O’Reilly has worn his loathing of Franken on his sleeve.

Fox News sued Franken over his use of the phrase “Fair And Balanced,” a lawsuit a judge denied as “wholly without merit.” The publicity fueled the book launch, an instant bestseller which moved Franken more firmly than ever into the realm of liberal politics. In just a year, he was hosting his own left-wing radio show, and in three more he was running for the Senate.

This was much to the chagrin of O’Reilly, who admits he was baited into boosting Franken’s profile, and considers the Senator a “despicable guttersnipe.”

Elizabeth Warren

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Put simply, Republicans have nobody to blame but themselves for Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren. The GOP was so gripped with urgency to stymie the various regulations implemented by the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, the Party prevented the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau from being led by one of its earliest, most articulate, and effective supporters: Warren.

So Warren decided to head to Massachusetts and take down then-Senator Scott Brown instead. It was the very sort of backfire for the GOP that conservative policy types sometimes chide liberals about — “unintended consequences.”

Claire McCaskill

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It speaks to Senator Claire McCaskill’s strength as a politician and campaigner that she’s won not one but two elections — as a Democrat, in Missouri, one of the reddest of the Red states. But McCaskill has had a little help from her Republican friends, too.

In 2006, she won a tight race against Republican Senator Jim Talent, buoyed to considerable effect by an issue now on the frontline of Democratic politics: her embrace of an increase to the state’s minimum wage, a sure-fire, populist issue which Talent tried to duck by not taking a firm position.

Wendy Davis

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Of all the women making moves in the Democratic Party, few elicit quite the level of conservative condescension as Texas Senator and gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis. This is essentially because her rise to national prominence came via her epic 11-hour filibuster last year, as she tried to keep a special session of the Texas Senate from passing a host of new abortion restrictions.

For this, Davis has been subjected to a slew of insults and criticisms, from the policy-based to the personal. Davis is lagging in the polls to Republican gubernatorial challenger Greg Abbott at the moment — the simple fact remains: If Republicans in Texas hadn’t been so keen to limit abortion by any means necessary, you probably wouldn’t have heard of the name Wendy Davis.