What Jewish Women Need to Know About the Midterm Results

Even if you were staying up late last night, clutching a glass of wine while watching the midterm election results roll in, it’s still hard to keep track of all the outcomes. We were watching local seats, governorships, senate seats, and the entire House of Representatives. So how did it all turn out?

The short answer from last night is we have a lot to celebrate, especially as Jewish women. The wins last night show a clear repudiation of white nationalism and hate as well as support for diverse women.

Let’s break down a few key take aways:

1. Democrats took back the House.

This is probably the most important take away from Midterms 2018. Democrats gained 27 seats in the House, giving them control of the chamber. This control comes with a Democratic Speaker of the House and investigative powers. Any committee chair (who is always a member of the majority party) has the power to issue subpoenas and compel testimony. Maybe we’ll actually be able to get a look at Trump’s tax returns, especially when we have two leading Jewish democrats poised to lead the House Judiciary (Jerry Nadler) and House Intelligence (Adam Schiff).

A number of the most exciting wins in the House were accomplished by Jewish candidates. Max Rose flipped the only Republican district in NYC to become the new congressman from NY 11 (Staten Island). Jewish army vet Elaine Luria won her race in the Virginia 2nd. And Elissa Slotkin beat leading Michigan republican Mike Bishop to win in the Michigan 8th.

2. A record number of women have been elected to the House for the first time ever.

Last night was a clear win for women and women of color. The previous record of women in the House was only 85, so while final numbers aren’t in yet, we’ve easily shattered that with at least 100 women so far. The first two Native women were elected to congress last night with historic wins by Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar will also be the first two Muslim women in Congress. We also saw wins for women in governorships, with Gretchen Whitmer winning in Michigan and Laura Kelly beating Kris Kobach in Kansas. Tish James became the first woman of color attorney general in New York history.

When it comes to Jewish women, it was all about Jacky Rosen of Nevada. She flipped the only senate seat to blue, beating out Dean Heller. Can’t wait to have another strong Jewish woman in the senate!

3. Strong gains were made at the state level

Too often we’re focused on national races, but local politics can be even more important to our daily lives. Not only did Democrats gain seven governorships, but they flipped many state houses. Colorado and New York have now won the “trifecta” with Democrats controlling the governorship and both state legislative chambers. New Hampshire, Connecticut, Minnesota, and Maine also saw Democrats flip state chambers. Democrats also flipped four attorney general seats.

State level control is incredibly important both to fighting Trump’s agenda and protecting states against a conservative Supreme Court. If you’re worried about Roe v. Wade being overturned, our strongest tool is to pass reproductive rights legislation at the state level.

We also need to rely on our state level Democrats to fight the growing white nationalism and protect Jewish values. Our local governments can set up hate crime response teams as well as the choice to prosecute hate crimes.

So what’s next?

We still have a lot to do when it comes to voter suppression. Stacey Abrams still hasn’t conceded the governorship because of the rampant voter suppression that occurred in Georgia. Heidi Heitkamp lost in North Dakota after a voter suppression law that targeted Native Americans was upheld by the Supreme Court.

Luckily there is a lot we can do to fight voter suppression. It’s mostly done at the state level, but you can also support organizations like Spread the Vote which work to get IDs to people who need them to vote.

And if you’re inspired by all the women elected into office, now’s the time to think about running yourself. There are great organizations like First Ask, Emily’s List, Run for Something, and Vote Run Lead which can help you get started.

But first, I highly suggest you take a big nap.

Mia Brett

Mia Brett is a PhD candidate in American legal history at Stony Brook and a cofounder of All Women’s Progress (AWP), a nonpartisan intersectional policy institute dedicated to improving the lives of women and marginalized groups through intersectional research and education.

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