‘We can’t be silenced’ women on the challenges of running for office us news the guardian

The Guardian spoke with three women running for office as in 2018. All three are Democrats, and have faced obstacles that they feel are related to their gender – including from their own party, which bills itself as being the party of women. Faced with everything from sexist double standards and gendered questioning to harassment and alleged assault, one woman changed her plans and dropped out of the race, but the others overcame the obstacles to succeed or at least keep going.

Cora Faith Walker – a state delegate elected in 2016 to representing Ferguson, Missouri – told the Guardian she got interested in running for office shortly after Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act was passed in part because she is passionate about public health.

A bright-eyed 33-year-old with a law degree and master’s in public health, she comes from one of the most politically loaded districts in the country, a place that was catapulted into the national consciousness when Michael Brown, an unarmed, black 18-year-old, was shot and killed by a white policeman, sparking riots and quickly becoming an emblem of the Black Lives Matter movement.

In an interview at the time, Walker told a columnist with the St Louis Post-Dispatch that she had made plans to meet Roberts one night to discuss working together in the upcoming legislative session, as the only two black lawyers in the statehouse. But after drinking a second glass of wine at a St Louis apartment, Walker said she awoke the next morning with “no recollection of why I was still there”.

Though she did not discuss the details of her alleged assault as litigation is still pending, Walker told the Guardian she was determined not to let the incident eclipse her political identity. “It’s a part of me,” she said. “It doesn’t define me.”

But she still has to work with her alleged aggressor every day the state legislature is in session and recently, alleged sexual misconduct has been center stage in Missouri. (Of the recent allegations against the state’s governor, Eric Greitens, who faces a litany of disturbing sexual misconduct charges, which he denies, Walker said, “It’s triggering.”)

Weaver’s children have all left home, but on the campaign trail she said she still regularly got questions about her kids and whether she could balance her motherly duties with her legislative ones. “No one ever says that to a man – they figure you’ve got it taken care of,” she said.

“When I ran they said: ‘You don’t look the part,’” Barbara A Mikulski, the former US senator from Maryland and longest-serving woman in the history of Congress told a roomful of women at a Washington conference last week. “But this is what the part got to look like.”

Weaver – who was also feeling pressure on her time from her desire to take care of her mother, whose health was failing – hung in until she started receiving sexist slurs and intimidating phone calls. She was particularly alarmed when someone put a “For Sale” sign in her yard not because she was insulted by its message but because, at a time when she already felt physically vulnerable, it signaled to her that her detractors knew where she lived.

Emily’s List, which helps groom pro-choice female candidates for office and sponsored last week’s DC conference, was founded to address that very problem. It’s right there in the name of the group, an acronym for “Early Money Is Like Yeast” – ie it makes the dough rise.

The fundraising problem is further compounded by other social and political forces, like the fact that women are underrepresented in the business and financial worlds where money moves. Not only does that make them less likely to be retail tycoons like her primary opponent David Trone (at America’s largest companies only 7% are CEOs, according to a survey of Fortune 1,000 companies), they’re less likely to have access to the lucrative boys’ clubs and networks that attend them.

Miller – who is running in Maryland’s 6th district – has a long list of policy priorities, including environmental protection and expanding access to healthcare, and hands out her cellphone number to anyone who asks, but the primary challenge she is facing from Trone – millionaire cofounder of one of America’s largest alcoholic beverage retailers, Total Wine & More – means she has had to focus an inordinate amount of time on fundraising.