New cards create challenge for women seeking re-election | National government and new policies
By SARA BURNETT – Associated Press
CHICAGO (AP) — Democrats took control of the United States House of Representatives in 2018 thanks to a record number of Democratic women candidates. Two years later, a record number of GOP women won seats, bringing the number of women in the chamber to an all-time high.
But for some titular women candidate for re-election this year, holding their seats comes with a new challenge: redesigned congressional districts that will be harder to win.
It’s too early to know how many female Reps have been hurt by the once-a-decade process known as redistricting — in which boundaries are redrawn based on census data to ensure districts of similar size — as several states have not finalized their maps. But in states with new district boundaries, Rutgers University’s Center for American Women in Politics has so far found more than a dozen women running in much tougher territory. That’s more than double the number of those in districts that will be much easier to win after redistricting, according to this month’s analysis.
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The new cards mean some female representatives are seeking re-election against longer-serving male incumbents — or against each other, like in Georgia’s Tuesday primary, where two Democratic incumbents clash. Ultimately, the new maps will determine whether women maintain or increase their numbers in the next Congress to more accurately reflect the makeup of the country, a goal members of both parties have been focused on. Currently, female Representatives make up about 28% of the 435 members of the House, with Democratic women holding about three times as many seats as GOP women.
Many of these women are already vulnerable because they were recently elected and lack the benefits of a long-serving position, such as fundraising and name recognition, said Kelly Dittmar, director of research. for the center. They also often won in rotating neighborhoods, neighborhoods more likely to swing from one party to another.
“2022 is an important year to figure out how these newly elected women are going to fare,” Dittmar said.
In Illinois, which lost a seat in the redistricting due to shrinking population, the state’s two first-term representatives — one Democrat, one Republican — were among the biggest losers in the state delegation. 18 members in state remapping.
Democratic mappers drew new boundaries that placed Democratic Rep. Marie Newman and Republican Rep. Mary Miller in districts already represented by male incumbents. The two women instead chose to run in neighboring neighborhoods, against other men. (House members are not required to live in the district they represent, although most do.)
Newman is a progressive who in 2020 ousted Rep. Dan Lipinski, one of the last anti-abortion Democrats in Congress. Last fall, Illinois lawmakers largely dismantled the Chicago-area district she represented by creating a new, predominantly Hispanic district to reflect population gains. Much of Newman’s district was swept into a neighboring district represented by two-term Democratic Rep. Sean Casten.
Newman’s home, and the area immediately around where she’s done her best in 2020, have been drawn to the heavily Hispanic district represented by Democratic Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia. This, Newman said, “I took it personally.”
She thinks it was revenge. “A lot of corporations, a lot of establishment people, they always seem to be mad at me,” she told the public at a fundraiser this month.
In an interview, Newman said she believed the Democratic lawmakers responsible for the new card felt she was unnecessary because she was the most recently elected incumbent. She said it was “crucially important” to have more women in Congress, especially at a time when abortion rights are under threat. The United States Supreme Court should overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide.
“You can’t have an unqualified person in there. But if there’s a qualified woman, I think you really have to look at that and say, ‘We need more of a female voice in Congress, period,’ said Newman, who recently posted an ad for campaign in which she talks about having an abortion at 19. “I’m very confident if there were still 50 to 100 women in Congress and the Senate, we wouldn’t be in this situation…(Roe) would have been codified and irreversible.”
Of course, not all women are in favor of codifying or enshrining in federal law the right to Abortion. Among the House’s fiercest opponents is Miller, who said she was inspired by then-President Donald Trump to run for her seat in southern Illinois in 2020.
Miller was drawn into the same congressional district as fellow conservative Mike Bost, whom Trump campaigned for in 2018. Rather than run against him, Miller chose to run in a neighboring district against the five-party Republican Rep. mandates Rodney Davis, who backed a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 uprising at the United States Capitol. Trump endorsed Miller.
Another Republican woman, first-term Rep. Yvette Herrell of New Mexico, has also been the victim of partisan remapping as Democrats who control the Legislature redrawn her district in the southern part of the state so that clearly more democratic.
It’s not yet clear whether women have been negatively affected by the redistricting at a higher rate than men incumbents, many of whom also face tougher elections, Dittmar said.
In some cases, women are challenged by other incumbents whose districts have been drawn to their detriment. Such is the case in Michigan, where Democratic Rep. Andy Levin chose to run against Rep. Haley Stevens in his safe Democratic district rather than the area he currently represents, something an independent commission has called for. be more contested.
And in Georgia, at least one incumbent woman will lose her bid for another term after Tuesday’s primary. Representatives Lucy McBath and Carolyn Bourdeaux both have flipped long-held GOP-held districts in the Atlanta area in recent election cycles. But after Republicans who control the state Legislature redraw McBath’s district to favor Republicans, the two-term incumbent opted to face Bourdeaux for the first term in a more Democratic-friendly district.
Some women take advantage of the shake-up. In Oklahoma, GOP Rep. Stephanie Bice’s Oklahoma City Area district — previously held by Democratic Rep. Kendra Horn — has been redesigned to be much more Republican.
For candidates facing more difficult re-election, this is often familiar ground.
“I just have to prove myself again,” Newman said.
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