Sunday morning, my husband Dave and I attended a donor’s brunch for U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema at the home of a very nice couple in Paradise Valley. Yes, that means we donated to her campaign for the U.S. Senate, and I’m not afraid to say I proudly endorse her, even as someone who works in the news business. That might raise a few eyebrows, but we’re living in politically unprecedented times, and many news organizations aren’t afraid to say which candidates they endorse in upcoming elections. I’m not speaking on behalf of My Local News – Arizona, but I can certainly speak for myself.
I think Kyrsten is exactly what we need – a return to civility in politics and a willingness to meet somewhere in the middle – not just in Arizona, but in our nation’s capitol, and for a variety of reasons. She’s moderate, not extreme or polarizing, and she’s willing to work to find sensible solutions with other elected officials – regardless of their party affiliation. She’s also a self-made, highly-educated woman who’s answered the call to run for public office.
Since the 2016 election, women in particular felt progress slipping backwards in terms of our reproductive rights, workplace equality, and the overall shame and dismissiveness surrounding sexual harrassment. While many women grew more and more shocked and outraged, they weren’t sure how to respond, what to do next. During the Women’s Marches of 2017 and 2018, the core message many women took away was twofold: first, we need to vote; and second, we need to run for elected office. And of course women took it even further with the grassroots #MeToo campaign, which has changed the national dialogue surrounding sexual harrassment.
In 2018, women are now more emboldened than ever, seeking positions of power and helping to effect change. According to Rutgers University’s Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), Eagleton Institute of Politics, a leading source of scholarly research and current data about American women’s political participation, there are currently 24 Arizona women who’ve filed candidacy for statewide and congressional elected offices, from Arizona Governor to the U.S. House of representatives. There are many more seeking public office in city council elections and local school boards. The same phenomenon is playing out around the country – and we are making history.
During Sunday’s brunch, Sinema spoke and reminded us that if she wins it would be the first time a Democrat from Arizona would hold a U.S. Senate seat since Dennis DeConcini retired 23 years go. It would also be the first time in Arizona history that a woman would be elected to the U.S. Senate. But that wouldn’t be the first time Sinema would make history in elected office. Sinema was also the first openly bisexual member of Congress, a huge win for the bisexual community and the largest segment of the LGBT mix, according to the Movement Advancement Project, which struggles with the phenomenon of “erasure” or invisibility, because people often can’t tell if someone is bisexual based on their partner or their appearance – it’s often just assumed the person is either gay, lesbian or straight. Since then, more and more people from the LGBT community have run for public office – and won. If Sinema wins, she would not only be the first female senator from the state of Arizona, she would also be the state’s first – and the nation’s first – openly bisexual member of the U.S. Senate. There are currently only seven openly LGBT members of congress: one in the Senate and six in the House.
It’s amazing to watch women come together and bring their greatest gifts to public office, especially during one of the most unusual times in American politics. It’s also been rewarding to share this time in history with my daughter, who won’t be old enough to vote until this summer. But you can be assured that she will register to vote, and when her first ballot arrives in the mail, she’ll make her voice heard.
To view a list of women running for statewide and congressional elected offices by state, click here. Source: Rutgers University’s Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), Eagleton Institute of Politics.
To register to vote, click here.