2018 is the year of sexual and ethnic minorities, especially on the Democratic side. This change has aroused the hostility of Republican candidates.
In American politics, the last “women’s year” was 1992, when an unprecedented number of female candidates entered Congress. 2018 will be the year of sexual and ethnic “minorities” and newcomers. According to Vox, no fewer than 14 women are running for the office of governor and several of these women are pioneers.
For example, Stacey Abrams, in Georgia, is on her way to becoming the first African-American woman to occupy the position of governor; the same opportunity for Paulette Jordan, a Native American from Idaho; as well as for Vermont candidate Christine Hallquist, who also hopes to become the first transgender person elected to such a position. Only six women, in the 50 states, currently occupy this office. Not all of these candidates will be elected, says Vox, but “the fact remains that these women are offering a vision of what America could look like if a diverse electorate were represented by an equally diverse slate of politicians.”
Whether it’s women, African-Americans, Hispanics or political novices, all these atypical candidate profiles are concentrated on the Democratic side. So much so that “white men are in the minority in the House Democratic candidate pool,” Politico explains. “Democrats have nominated a whopping 180 female candidates in House primaries − shattering the party’s previous record of 120.” The magazine adds that “133 people of color and 158 first-time candidates” have also been nominated by Democrats.
Apart from the fact that places of power could be transformed by the arrival of these newcomers, “[T]he candidates could also mark the beginning of a new era for the rebuilding [sic] Democratic Party,” Politico stresses. “When a state legislator runs for Congress, that’s a formula we know. But when a nurse or a mom, or a young veteran decides to run, the campaign looks and feels different,” according to Martha McKenna, a Democratic consultant.
Rap, ‘Monkey,’ and Dangerous ‘Feminists’
But this renewal hasn’t come without generating some tensions. Several black candidates have paid the price. Antonio Delgado, a Democratic candidate in a New York state district, was the target of the Republican Party’s legislative electoral committee. Repeating the explicit words of a rap that the young lawyer had written in 2007, one ad questioned the candidate’s legitimacy to seek elected office. His Republican opponent, slightly behind in the polls, distanced himself from this negative publicity, but did ask him to explain his “controversial views,” according to The Hill.
Similarly, despite using an expression that included the term “monkey” while commenting on his black opponent, the Republican candidate for governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, defended himself for having used a racially charged term to describe Democrat Andrew Gillum. Other Republican candidates have portrayed their female opponents as dangerous “feminists,” according to The Washington Post, which points out that, on the Republican side, diversity has stagnated and even declined among the candidates.
“Raw tensions over race, gender and personal identity are shaping battleground contests from upstate New York to the Deep South, reflecting the marked schism in the country during the Trump era and the increasingly stark demographic divide between the two political parties,” the newspaper stated. “Republicans are aggressively trying to cast Democratic candidates as scary, threatening figures with unfamiliar values.”
But this rush of non-conforming candidates has also brought its share of unlikely profiles. For example, cyclist Juli Briskman became famous for having given the finger to Donald Trump’s entourage, in October, which earned her the loss of her job as a government subcontractor. She will run for local elective office in northern Virginia in 2019, according to HuffPost.