Year of the woman: the Democrats inspired by Trump to run for office

Those committed to electing Democratic women to office worried Hillary Clintons loss would repel female candidates. But then the sun came up

Election night 2016 was devastating for Democratic women who had hoped to elect the first female president. But it was doubly so for the organizers committed to electing Democratic women to office. They worried Hillary Clintons loss to a man who boasted on tape about grabbing women would repel female candidates from entering politics. But then the sun came up.

It really started immediately, said Andrea Steele, the president and founder of Emerge America, a national organization that recruits and trains Democratic women to run for office. The next day our phone began to ring and it didnt stop. Emails poured in. Women all over the country woke up and decided to take some action.

Since the 8 November election, Emerge America has reported an 87% increase in applications to its training programs.

Emilys List, an organization dedicated to helping elect pro-choice Democratic women, said more than 16,000 women have expressed interest in running for office since the election, while that number was 920 during the entire 2016 election cycle. Similarly She Should Run, a nonpartisan organization that trains female candidates, said 15,000 women inquired about running in an election,compared to about 900 during the same period last year.

Donald Trumps election has led to a surge in political activism among Democratic women, according to a June survey of college-educated voters by Politico, American University and Loyola Marymount. But so far, the survey found, that energy hasnt totally translated yet into more women wanting to run for office.

Jennifer Lawless, a professor of government at American University and the co-author of the study, said backlash to Trump may have planted a seed but that it could take several more election cycles for that seed to bloom.

Organizers agree that political parity is still years away. But even so, theyre optimistic the interest will usher in another year of the woman.

We look at this not just as our crop of candidates for 2018, because theyre not all going to run right away, Emilys List president Stephanie Schriock told reporters earlier this summer. This is an extraordinary pipeline of future candidates for the next decade.

The Guardian spoke with a handful of candidates who are putting their names on the ballot next year for the first time, and asked what drove them to run.

Elissa Slotkin, congressional candidate for Michigans eighth district

A few months into the Trump presidency, Elissa Slotkin was still on the fence about running. And then her congressman Mike Bishop voted for the House Republican healthcare bill.

Slotkin said she was shocked that he would cast such a consequential vote without at least holding a town hall and hearing from the constituents.

Too many politicians in Congress have forgotten that they are public servants, that they are voted in by people and that their one responsibility their one job is to improve the lives of their constituents, Slotkin said. It just seemed like a hell of a lot of people who had forgotten that.

Slotkin, a former intelligence official, worked at the Pentagon, the state department and the CIA during the Bush and Obama administrations. As a Middle East analyst at the CIA, she served three tours in Iraq.

During her 15 years working in intelligence and defense, she said no one ever asked her party affiliation. And thats the approach shes taking to her campaign.

Voters are surprised that she is openly critical of the national Democratic party, but she reminds them that her job was to give frank assessments of a controversial war to two presidents with very different perspectives.

I think they take that as a sign that I still understand how to speak truth to power, she said.

Throughout her career, Slotkin said she was often one of the few women in the room or in the combat zone where she deployed.

I have really worked hard to be in some instances twice as competent and twice as capable, she said. But Ive always found that if you know your stuff and youre willing to put yourself out there then people respect that and your gender means less than your competence.

Jena Griswold, candidate for Colorado secretary of state

After the election, Jena Griswold watched in horror as Trump claimed without any basis that millions of people had voted illegally, costing him the popular vote. And then he convened an election integrity commission to prove it.

Griswold, a former voting rights lawyer for Obamas 2012 campaign, decided she couldnt stay on the sidelines.

We saw firsthand how our election could be affected, she said, referring to the conclusion by the intelligence community that Russia interfered in the US election, which Trump has repeatedly doubted.

And now this commission should have us all on high alert. We need secretaries of state who will stand up and say: No, were not going to roll back our democratic institutions on false allegations.

She noted that after the commission started requesting voter data, hundreds of Colorado residents canceled their voter registrations, and that county elections offices reported a flood of calls from voters concerned about their data privacy.

Our democracy requires participating and when people are taking themselves out of voter rolls, were decreasing participation, she said.

Before launching her campaign, Griswold spent hours mulling the decision with fellow female politicians. Griswold had questions about what to expect from running at such a young age and though she felt qualified to do the job, this would be her first campaign.

Eventually, she said, a mentor told her: If youre excited about this, you should run. Maybe not having run for office before will be a benefit.

At just 32, Griswold is running her first campaign and pitching her youth as an asset.

Younger people are being turned off by how our politics work, she said. I understand that. And as a younger person running, I have innovative ideas and a fresh perspective on how to change that.

January Contreras, candidate for Arizona attorney general

For most of her career, January Contreras has disregarded the calls to run for office, choosing instead to serve in other ways. That is, until now.

It became clear that were at this very important crossroads, Contreras said of her decision to run. I decided to step forward and give Arizona a choice that they can trust.

Contreras said special interests have been pulling the strings for too long and that, if elected, she intends to shift the focus of the attorney generals office back to fighting for working families and small businesses.

I came into the race feeling like I have to fight hard for all of these people in vulnerable positions because I know the choices they have to make, she said.

But what I have been surprised by since starting the campaign is that there are a lot of people who have a good home, have a job but are afraid of their government.

Though shes a political novice, Contreras has a lengthy resume with a record of public service.

She worked as an assistant attorney general in the office she now hopes to run, an ombudsman with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services and a senior advisor to Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano. In 2013, she founded the nonprofit Arizona Legal Women and Youth Service, which provides no-cost legal services to survivors of sex and labor trafficking and vulnerable children.

Contreras said she has been fortunate to work for and with female leaders throughout most of her career, like Napolitano, who was one of Arizonas four female governors.

Seeing other women step up to run for office has been inspiring, Contreras said. If we achieve getting more women elected, well see more work across the aisle and more problem-solving because lets face it, moms get stuff done.

Kim Schrier, congressional candidate for Washingtons eighth district

Kim Schrier spent election day on the phone pleading with voters in Florida to turn out for Hillary Clinton. Hours later the state would fall to Trump, along with the rest of the south and a large swath of the midwest.

The election was a real wake-up call for me, said Schrier, a pediatrician in Washington state. It felt like the world changed overnight.

The next morning, her eight-year-old son asked if they were going to have to move to another country.

I knew right away that this was one of those times when youre called upon to stand up and protect everything you love, she said.

The idea of leaving her practice where she has worked for the last 16 years to seek elective office would have sounded absurd a year ago, she said. But as she watched Republicans lead the effort to repeal Obamacare, Schrier saw an opportunity.

As a pediatrician in Washington [DC] I could serve all the children of the country far more than I could serve one ear infection at a time in my office, she said.

The final straw was when her congressman, Dave Reichert, refused to hold town halls with his constituents as the healthcare debate raged in the capital. In a campaign video, Schrier announced her candidacy next to an empty chair meant to symbolize Reicherts reluctance to meet with voters.

If elected, Schrier said she would naturally gravitate toward issues involving healthcare and science. She noted that there are currently no female doctors serving in Congress.

I think having a woman doctor at the table is an important perspective, especially during discussions of womens health and reproductive rights, she said.

Mikie Sherrill, congressional candidate for New Jerseys 11th district

When Mikie Sherrill told her family she was considering running for Congress, the former Navy pilot expected to be called crazy. Instead, they wholeheartedly agreed.

Now the Democrat is running to take on Trump and the districts nine-term Republican senator, Rodney Frelinghuysen.

I started this campaign because I was really disturbed by Trumps attack on the institutions of our democracy, Sherrill said, adding that Trumps equivocating response to the deadly violence in Charlottesville have brought his presidency into sharp relief.

I think now there is a feeling things have come to a head and this is simply not who we are as a country.

As a US Navy pilot, Sherrill spent nine years flying helicopters in Europe and the Middle East. After leaving the Navy, Sherrill attended law school at Georgetown University and later became a federal prosecutor with the US attorneys office in New Jersey.

During the 2016 election, Sherrill said she was especially appalled by Trumps treatment of Gold Star families and his disregard for Senator John McCain of Arizona, who spent more than five years in captivity during the Vietnam war.

Sherrill said she is encouraged but not surprised that so many veterans are running for office.

Veterans at one time in their life have signed up to serve their country, Sherrill said. Whats happening to this country now is a grave concern to a lot of people but veterans in particular feel the need to get engaged and help protect this country and the institutions of our government.

Sherrill said knowing she is joining a fleet of Democratic women around the country in seeking office in 2018 has been empowering.

Ive always found being a woman to be a double-edged sword, Sherrill said. Ive run into corners where Ive experienced some veiled sexism and some not so veiled sexism. But after this election the women are so engaged and that support has really gotten my campaign to where it is.

Olivia Scott, candidate for Charlotte school board – district three

Olivia Scott thought she was too young, too inexperienced, too soft-spoken for politics. The thought of running had crossed her mind but she quickly dismissed it as afar-fetched dream. But then Trump won and that equation changed.

I thought, if he can win the presidency I can definitely win a seat on the school board, Scott said.

At just 25, Scott said shes running for school board to try to change the trajectory for young students in Charlotte, where children born into poverty have little chance of escaping it.

As an undergraduate student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Scott studied English with a concentration in childrens studies. She now works as a director-in-training at a five-star child care center in Charlotte and is a volunteer with the local Big Brothers Big Sisters program.

Scott said she is the right person to serve on the District 3 school board because she attended a similar school growing up. As a student, Scott said she was acutely aware of the disparities between school districts.

I couldnt figure out why the schools I went to were so depressing on the inside or why students I went to school with didnt always succeed, she said.

Scott has a three tier platform that she believes will help address some of the obstacles that exist, especially for the poor African American students in her district, including improving communication skills and boosting test scores in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Being young can seem like an obstacle sometimes, but its also an opportunity, she said.

I get a lot of How old are you again? she said. Most people are extremely supportive. When I introduce myself to millennials, a lot of them are impressed and ask how they can get involved.

Hala Ayala, candidate for Virginia House of Delegates district 51

Like so many women, she marched and now shes running.

Hala Ayala has been active in Democratic politics for more than a decade, but it wasnt until after she helped organize a contingent of Virginia women of the Womens March on Washington that she saw her name on the ballot.

We woke up the next day and I dont even know if this is clinically correct but we had political depression, she said. But then I went to the march and the experience, marching with these women, it really energized me and inspired me to take the next step.

For years, Ayala has worked to promote women in politics and civic life. She revived her county chapter of the National Organization for Women and serves on Governor Terry McAuliffes Council on Women.

As a single mother of two boys, one of whom has a serious medical condition, Ayala relied on welfare and Medicaid for support. At one point, she worked as a cashier at the local gas station before enrolling in a training program that put her on a path to a career in cyber security.

Ayala recently left her job as a cyber security specialist with the Department of Homeland Security to join a record number of women to seek a seat in the Virginia legislature. The decision was not without risks and she said she still occasionally wonders if it was the right decision for her family.

There is a lot of sacrifices that we make to run for office and those are not taken lightly, she said.

So far this risk has been rewarding. In June, Ayala won her primary. She is now among 10 women challenging Republican incumbents.

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Sanders’ New York buzz may not deliver enough votes as polls still favor Clinton

Despite Bernie Sanders visibly enthusiastic support before the pivotal primary, Clintons campaign seems confident that Tuesday will be a night to celebrate

A New York spring is in the air in the parks and streets of the Big Apple as Bernie Sanders rallies tens of thousands of adoring supporters with a message of political revolution he hopes could still block Hillary Clintons seemingly unstoppable path to the Democratic presidential nomination.

But in the television studios and political salons, the focus is on the harsh reality of polling numbers and electoral mathematics ahead of Tuesdays crucial primary election showdown between the two increasingly bitter rivals.

Although some polls suggest Clintons once commanding lead may have shrunk in recent weeks, she remains an average of 13 points ahead, and few professional observers expect the former secretary state who represented New York for eight years in the US Senate and even beat Barack Obama in the 2008 New York primary will do anything other than win here again.

While Sanders plans to be off in Pennsylvania for more packed rallies before the next series of primaries on 26 April, Clinton is due to return to New York on Tuesday night for what she fully expects will be a victory party at the Sheraton hotel in Times Square.

And with Donald Trump even more comfortably ahead of rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich in polling for New Yorks simultaneous Republican primary, a leading pro-Clinton fundraising committee has even begun reserving airtime for TV commercials ahead of what it considers to be the more important general election contest it sees looming in November.

Clintons increasingly confident aides were in combative mood before what could be the last significant contest of the Democratic primary, describing New York as must-win for Sanders who had a lot on the line.

If Sanders loses NYC to Clinton, will he say it is because it is in the southern part of New York state? taunted her spokesman, Brian Fallon, in response to suggestions that early wins in conservative-leaning states in the deep south had made Clintons national delegate lead look more unassailable than it really was.

The Sanders campaign, in contrast, is dialing back predictions of a win but remains buoyed instead by the undeniable enthusiasm among its supporters in the Empire state.

We dont have to win New York on Tuesday, but we have to pick up a lot of delegates, wrote his campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, in an email on Sunday that flagged an outlier poll suggesting he and Clinton could be within six points of each other. This poll shows that if we keep fighting, we may actually have a chance to do both. Itd be the most shocking upset in modern political history, he added.

But even by the Sanders campaigns own, more optimistic, estimates, it remains 214 pledged delegates behind Clinton in the race to reach the finishing line of 2,383, and further behind still if the calculation includes controversial superdelegates party elites who overwhelming favour Clinton. To overturn this delegate momentum, Sanders needs to win heavily, not just in New York but in most of the remaining contests.

Explaining the disconnect between the Bernie buzz and Clinton confidence has driven some political pundits to distraction. Harry Enten, a columnist with the data-driven website, once promised to pour a bucket of cold water over his head if Clinton fell behind in national polling, a pledge that could yet prove rash as the two close within a percentage point across the country.

The pundits argue instead that the 2016 primary is more than halfway through and the polling that really matters shows Clinton winning in all the states that look most similar to the demographic profile of Democrats nationwide.

But the buzz is infectious too. While Clinton drew a few hundred supporters to her rally in Staten Island on Sunday, Sanders drew a record 28,300 supporters to Prospect Park in Brooklyn on Sunday, where messages such as free college tuition and universal healthcare remain powerful stimulants.

I am literally walking away with goose bumps. I feel like I am going to cry, said 36-year-old Long Island makeup artist Jennifer Wright. I am a single mom. I have worked hard my whole life, I have never been on any kind of welfare, I have worked my ass off my whole life and I want to make sure my son has a fair chance at university. I am here for his generation.

Clinton supporters may be quieter, but have their own hopes and dreams too and are increasingly frustrated that they are being drowned out in the noise of the Sanders revolution.

Maxine Outerbridge, a 28-year-old accountant, took such umbrage with the public narrative that young voters are uninspired by Clinton that she wrote a letter to the campaign detailing why she was a supporter. She soon found herself introducing Clinton at the rally on Staten Island, at the historic Great Hall at Snug Harbor, two days before the New York primary.

Recounting how she became pregnant while still in school, Outerbridge said her daughter would not have access to health insurance had it not been for the State Childrens Health Insurance Program championed by Clinton and signed into law during her husbands administration. She also identified herself as a former victim of domestic violence while praising Clinton as an advocate for women.

She is a fighter, Outerbridge said. And so as a young woman, as a minority, as a domestic violence survivor, and as an aspiring entrepreneur, I support Hillary.

  • This article was amended on 18 April 2016 to correct the number of years Hillary Clinton served as a US senator. She was in the Senate for eight years, not six.

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Top 25 hedge fund managers earned $13bn in 2015 more than some nations

Top earners, Kenneth Griffin and James Simons, made $1.7bn each despite hedge fund killing field on Wall Street where many companies lost billions or closed

The worlds top 25 hedge fund managers earned $13bn last year more than the entire economies of Namibia, the Bahamas or Nicaragua.

Kenneth Griffin, founder and chief executive of Citadel, and James Simons, founder and chairman of Renaissance Technologies, shared the top spot, taking home $1.7bn each equivalent to the annual salaries of 112,000 people taking home the US federal minimum wage of $15,080.

The earnings of the best-performing hedge fund managers, published by Institutional Investors Alpha magazine on Tuesday, dwarfs the pay of top Wall Street executives who have been under fire for their multimillion-dollar pay deals. The best paid banker last year was JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, who collected $27m.

The huge pay at the top comes despite a tumultuous year on Wall Street that has led many well-known hedge funds to lose billions of dollars and others to close down. Daniel Loeb, CEO of Third Point, a hedge fund that manages $17.5bn, has described market conditions as a hedge fund killing field.

Despite the challenges, Simons and Griffin managed to increase their earnings by $500m and $400m, respectively, compared with last year.

Both men have poured a lot of money into the presidential race, but both backed Republicans who dropped out. Griffin, who is the richest man in Illinois with a $7.5bn fortune according to Forbes, has donated more than $3m into the failed campaigns of Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and Scott Walker.

Griffin, 47, who started from his dorm at Harvard University, was the biggest single donor to Rahm Emanuels successful campaign for a second term as mayor of Chicago.

He has rarely spoken about his political inclinations, but in 2012 he described himself as a Reagan Republican and said he thought the rich had insufficient influence on the political process. When Emanuel announced the closure of 50 schools, Griffin said he should have closed 125.

Griffin recently spent $500m buying Jackson Pollocks Number 17A and Willem de Koonings Interchanged from the entertainment mogul David Geffen. He has loaned the paintings to the Art Institute of Chicago.

Simons, a string theory expert and former cold war codebreaker, has made an estimated $15.5bn from Renaissance Technologies the mathematics-driven quant hedge fund he set up 34 years ago.

The fund, which is run from the tiny Long Island village of Setauket where Simons owns a huge beachfront compound, has donated $13m to Cruzs failed campaign. With Cruz out of the race, Renaissance has switched donations to Hillary Clinton, with more than $2m donated so far. Euclidean Capital, Simons family office, has donated more than $7m to Clinton.

Simons, 78, who retired as CEO of Renaissance in 2009, is the 50th richest person in the world, according to Forbes. His earnings last year were so large that if he were a country it would rate as the worlds 178th most productive nation, according to the World Banks GDP rankings.

He has donated millions of dollars to maths and science education via the Simons Foundation he set up in 1994.

No woman has yet made it into the top 25 of the hedge fund highest-paid list, which has been running for 15 years. Hedge fund managers typically get paid based on a structure known as two and 20, in which they collect a 2% fee on the assets they manage and earn 20% of the profits they make for investors.

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