Nominate a woman? Some Democratic women aren’t so sure
Iowa voters sent a record number of women to the Legislature during last year’s midterms. Women won two of the state’s most competitive U.S. House races, and a woman was elected governor for the first time.
Yet across Iowa, there’s palpable anxiety among some Democratic women about nominating a female candidate to face off against President Donald Trump next year.
“I want to be for a woman, but it’s just hard when you see a lot of other people not supporting women yet. I feel that America’s just not there yet,” said Wendy McVey, a 20-year-old junior at Iowa State University who is most interested in Beto O’Rourke, a former Texas congressman.
And it’s not just Iowa.
Across Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, three of the first states to hold 2020 nominating contests, dozens of women told The Associated Press that they are worried about whether the country is ready to elect a woman as president. Their concerns are political and personal, rooted as much in fear of repeating Hillary Clinton’s 2016 loss to Trump as in their own experiences with sexism and gender discrimination.
These worries have created a paradox for Democrats.
Women are among the party’s most energized and engaged voters, accounting for more than half the electorate in the 2018 midterms. Democrats sent a historic number of women to Congress last year and have a record number of women running for president, including Sens. Kamala Harris of California, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.
But the Oval Office has been elusive, and given Democrats’ deep desire to oust Trump, some don’t want to take any chances with their nominee.
“I think a lot of people voted for him because they didn’t want to vote for her,” Katrina Riley, a 69-year-old from Summerville, South Carolina, said of the 2016 contest between Trump and Clinton. “And I don’t want that to happen again.”
Helen Holden Slottje, a 52-year-old New Hampshire attorney, noted the irony in women raising concerns about nominating a woman.
“I fear for that with women, that it’s, ‘Well, we had our chance. We had Hillary. Hillary didn’t pan out. Best to just pick another 65-year-old plus white guy who has the best chance of winning,’” Slottje said.