Women Win Big In This Week’s Elections

Tuesday’s election proved hugely favorable for Democrats. Democrats won the governorships of both Virginia and New Jersey. Democrats also flipped many state legislature seats from red to blue.

While much of the media attention has gone to the big winners, Northam in VA, and Phil Murphy in NJ, there some historic firsts that made Tuesday’s elections notable.

Women showed up in force as candidates in Tuesday’s races and won in several contests. Here are just a few:

Ashley Bennett – 

Ashley Bennett was appalled when, in January, Atlantic City Freeholder John Carman posted a meme referring to the Women’s march that read, “Will the women’s protest be over in time for them to cook dinner?”

Bennett decided to run against Carman for his seat, despite the fact that his district was Republican, Bennett beat the sexist Carman by 1,000 votes. There were a total of 14,000 votes cast.

Kelly Fowler – 

Kelly Fowler lives in Virginia Beach, VA. She attended the Women’s March with her daughter, intending it to be for her daughter’s benefit. She said in a campaign ad, “I thought the march was gonna be for her. I realized that it was for both of us and I didn’t feel alone anymore. So I knew I needed to do something. I need to be part of the legislative process.”

She ran against incumbent Ron Villanueva (R) who voted to declare the anniversary of Roe v. Wade the “Day of Tears.” Fowler beat Villanueva and flipped the seat from red to blue.

Hala Ayala – 

Hala Ayala was also involved in the Women’s March, organizing buses for women from her community to attend. She ran for a seat in Virginia’s House of Delegates against 4-time Republican incumbent Rich Anderson, and she won.

Ayala is one of two Latinas who defeated Republican incumbents to become the first Latinas elected to the Virginia House of Delegates.

Elizabeth Guzman- 

Democrat Elizabeth Guzman defeated the Republican incumbent Scott Lingamfelter in the 31st district. Lingamfelter has held his seat in the House of Delegates since 2001, that is until Guzman took it on Tuesday.

Elizabeth Guzman and Hala Ayala are the first Latinas elected to the Virginia House of Commons. Guzman immigrated to the United States from Peru. She was a single mother coming to the US to provide a better life for her daughter. She was determined to attend college. She worked three jobs to afford a one-bedroom apartment for herself and her daughter. Despite the tremendous challenges, Guzman put herself through college, eventually earning two Master’s degrees.

Danica Roem- 

One of Virginia’s most socially conservative representatives to the House of Delegates, Republican incumbent Bob Marshall, lost his seat in Tuesday’s election. He was unsuccessful in pushing for a bathroom ban that would restrict the bathroom a transgender person is permitted to use. He was defeated by the first transgender woman elected and then seated in American state legislature, Democrat Danica Roem.

Despite the fact that Roem made history, she did not center her campaign around her gender identity. Instead, she focused on jobs, schools, and issues with Northern Virginia traffic.

Kathy Tran- 

Democrat Kathy Tran will replace Republican David Albo in Virginia’s House of Delegates. She will represent the 42nd district. Albo held the seat for 24 years but did not run for re-election. Tran defeated Republican candidate Lolita Mancheno-Smoak.

Tran came to the United States when she was a baby. She was a refugee from Vietnam. She also made history in Tuesday’s election as the first Asian-American woman elected to Virginia’s House of Delegates.

Karrie Delaney- 

Karrie Delaney ran to unseat incumbent Republican Jim LeMunyon in the 67th district. The 67th includes parts of both Fairfax and Loudoun counties. Fairfax and Loudoun are swing areas that often predict the electoral leanings of the state. Delaney defeated LeMunyon.

Karrie Delaney is the daughter of a US Army veteran. Before her run for political office, Delaney worked with foster children in a group home and volunteered as a sexual assault counselor, eventually becoming the Board President of her county’s crisis counseling organization.

Wendy Gooditis- 

Republican incumbent Randy Minchew expected to keep his seat in the House of Delegates. Then Wendy Gooditis decided to run. Gooditis defeated Minchew in the 10th district.

Wendy Gooditis worked in technology and then became a school teacher. She worked at a private school, in the public school system, and homeschooled her children.

Jennifer Carroll Foy- 

Jennifer Carroll Foy ran against Republican Mike Makee. Makee is a Navy veteran and member of the Stafford County Utilities Commission. Despite his credentials, he was defeated by Democrat Jennifer Carroll Foy.

Jennifer Carroll Foy is a public defender who quoted her grandfather on the campaign trail saying, “If you have it, you have to give it.” Foy was a member of the third class of female cadets at the historically all-male Virginia Military Institute. The top priority listed on Foy’s campaign website is to expand Medicaid to ensure affordable healthcare for “veterans, women, and working families.”

The electoral victory in Virginia was decisive for Democrats, and women led it. While some races were so close they require a recount; it is clear that Democrats have flipped at least 14 seats in the House of Delegates. Men formerly held all of those positions and 10 of the people who unseated them were women.

This tsunami of women participating in politics, making their voices heard not only at the ballot box but in state legislatures, was sparked in large part by outrage with President Trump. The momentum was propelled forward with the Women’s March, and this display of women asserting themselves in representing their communities can serve to continue that momentum ahead into the 2018 midterms.

It appears the old boys club, at least in the Virginia House of Delegates, just got crashed by strong women, and it could not be better!

This tweet from the Women’s March on election day about sums it up.