By Kate Irby and Kellen Browning
McClatchy Washington Bureau
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) More than half of House seats have a female candidate in the general election for the first time in history. The previous record of women winning primaries for House seats was 167.
Democrats see 2018 as the Year of the Woman 2.0, thanks to the furor surrounding sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
But there are important differences with 1992, the original Year of the Woman, when four Democrats won election to the U.S. Senate after the televised war between Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill, who accused the Supreme Court nominee of sexual harassment. Kavanaugh has forcefully denied the claims of accuser Christine Blasey Ford, just as Thomas denied Hill’s allegations.
Among the differences between the two episodes: Republicans are actively aiming to dilute the political impact of Thursday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
They plan to have a woman lawyer question Blasey Ford, a clear effort to avoid the negative optics from Hill’s hearing, when the striking image of the all-male committee bearing down on a lone woman stuck with some voters. All 11 committee Republicans today are men, while four the 10 Democrats are women.
The Democratic women who won Senate seats in 1992, California’s Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, Illinois’ Carol Moseley Braun and Washington’s Patty Murray, 13 months after Thomas won confirmation have this advice for female Democrats running for office today: Know that women are behind you, but don’t let the harassment issue completely define your candidacy.
“As a candidate, you can’t exactly play to (those issues) without sounding like you’re pandering. That’s just in the water, that’s in the air. So you get out there and talk about the issues in the campaign,” said Moseley Braun, who defeated a two-term incumbent in the 1992 Democratic primary and went on to win the Senate seat.