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6 Amazing Women To Watch In Today's Midterm Elections

As Americans head to the midterm election polls, it seems Trump’s divisive and controversial leadership has had one positive side effect: a surge in women running for office to defend female rights. Jane Mulkerrins reports...

From the separation of immigrant children from their parents to the moves to roll back transgender rights, every week in US politics since the election of Donald Trump two years ago this week brings new controversy. But as the nation limps, divided and fractured, towards the halfway point of Trump’s four-year presidency, one positive side effect has materialised: the unprecedented tide of women running for office in the midterm elections.

A record 527 women have launched campaigns for seats in Congress and the Senate in the midterms this week. ‘Ths uptick in the number of women running for office is like nothing we’ve ever seen before,’ says Alexandra De Luca, spokesperson for Emily’s List, an organisation that helps pro-choice Democratic women candidates. ‘In 2015 and 2016, we heard from 920 women who were interested in running. Since Donald Trump’s election, we
have heard from 42,000 women who are interested.’

This is not a response to Trump alone, she says. ‘It’s also in reaction to the attempts by Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act and access to reproductive health care; and to their forcing Brett Kavanaugh on to the Supreme Court, despite the anger from women all over the country. The #MeToo movement has really inspired women to come forward and make their voices heard, too.’

It’s not the first time women in the US have risen up to run for office in response to a sense that the powerful patriarchy was ignoring their protests. In 1992, a then-record 24 women were elected to the Senate, increasing female representation by 60%, leading to it being dubbed The Year of the Woman.

Back then, the increase in female candidates was closely linked to lawyer Anita Hill’s testimony the year before against Clarence Thomas, who she accused of sexual harassment and who, like Kavanaugh, went on to be elected to the Supreme Court after being nominated by George W Bush. ‘It’s a very similar impetus this time around,’ says De Luca. ‘Women feel their voices aren’t being heard. Women see a problem and want to do something to solve it.’ Both Thomas and Kavanaugh denied the allegations against them.

A huge number of those running are first-time candidates. ‘There are so many women who are eminently qualified, who thought before that it wasn’t the right time. They are realising that there is no right time – the right time is now.’ So, here are the names you need to know...