Democratic Women Conquered Virginia's Primaries & November Is Gonna Be So Interesting
Women aren't just running for Congress at record levels this year — they're winning their primaries, too. Democratic women conquered Virginia's congressional primaries on Tuesday, particularly in competitive U.S. House races where those women will go on to face vulnerable Republican incumbents this fall. The five Democratic women who won in Virginia add to the growing number of victories women candidates have racked up so far this year.
There is currently just one woman serving in Virginia's 11-member congressional delegation: Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock. After yesterday's Democratic primary win, Jennifer Wexton will challenge Comstock on the midterm ballot for the chance to represent Virginia's 10th Congressional District.
Elaine Luria also is vying to replace Republican Rep. Scott Taylor, who represents Virginia's 2nd Congressional District. Vangie Williams is competing against Republican Rep. Rob Wittman for a seat representing Virginia's 1st Congressional District. And Abigail Spanberger is running in opposition to Republican Rep. David Brat, who represents Virginia's 7th Congressional District.
One other Democratic woman who advanced to the November midterm elections — Jennifer Lewis — is running against a Republican nominated by the party earlier this year. Democrat Leslie Cockburn was also nominated by the Democratic Party earlier this year to run for the House seat representing Virginia's 5th Congressional District.
These women make up more than 50 percent of Virginia's Democratic nominees for the U.S. House. Their victories didn't all come easily, though.
Before the polls opened in Virginia, Spanberger's Democratic opponent, Daniel Ward, told The Washington Post that Spanberger "had the red carpet laid out for her in the national media" because of her gender. Her supporters didn't agree.
“Abigail Spanberger is receiving national attention because she’s an incredibly qualified candidate running a strong campaign," said Christina Reynolds, vice president of communications for the pro-choice Democratic political action committee Emily's List, in a statement released Monday. "For her opponent to complain that it’s only because she’s a woman is completely ridiculous and shows how worried he is about losing the primary tomorrow."
Spanberger ultimately defeated Ward by nearly 50 points. She will now oppose a Republican incumbent who's been in office since 2014 and is considered one of the most conservative members of the House, according to Vox.
The race in Virginia's 10th Congressional District between Comstock and Wexton adds to the number of all-female congressional races across the country this year. Emily's List officially endorsed Wexton after her primary victory, asserting in a statement that Comstock's "conservative beliefs and votes do not align with the district that she represents."
"As a former prosecutor and judge, Jennifer is committed to justice and equality for all Virginians," said Stephanie Schriock, the president of Emily's List, said in a statement. "These values and her strong work ethic will guide her to be a vocal advocate for working families in Congress."
Regardless of who wins in Virginia's 10th District, the state will still have at least one woman representing it on Capitol Hill. But the five other Democratic women running increase the odds that Virginia's congressional delegation will have a few more women come 2019.
A total of 456 women have filed to run for the U.S. House this year, according to data from the Center for American Women and Politics. So far, 128 have won their primary elections — 103 Democrats and 25 Republicans.
Along with Democratic women candidates' victories in Virginia this week, six Democratic women won their respective U.S. House primaries in Maine, Nevada, North Dakota, and South Carolina on Tuesday. Two of them — Rep. Chellie Pingree and Rep. Dina Titus — are Democratic incumbents.
Whatever state you live in, expect to see more women than usual on the congressional ballot this November.