It’s always fun to try to new things, so let’s go wild and start this newsletter off with good news! (Yes, good news still exists!) Last week, voters in Missouri showed just how fed up they are with the GOP and Donald Trump. Democrats shifted the electoral playing field in special elections held in normally deep red districts, including a comfortable victory in the race for a house legislature seat that had voted for Trump by 28 points.
Notably, Democrats hadn’t even put up a candidate for that seat in the last election, which goes to show that the party needs to contest every single election moving forward. Voting for a political party is a habit, and Democrats have been awful about allowing large swaths of the country to just reflexively support Republicans. The GOP won the other three special elections in Missouri, but just barely, as local Democrats outperformed Hillary Clinton in their districts by 18, 25, and 53 points.
The GOP’s assault on working people and all minimal standards of decency is expediting the Democratic Party’s rebuild, and so we have to keep pushing forward. This coming week will feature several more special elections, including races in Florida and Minnesota that we’ve highlighted several times.
Margaret Good is running against the son of filthy rich Congressman Vern Buchanan for a Florida state house seat, while Karla Bingham and Melissa Wagner run for crucial seats in Minnesota. Good and Wagner are on Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page, while Bingham is raising money on her own site. Do what you can to support them and keep the momentum going!
Local Candidate: Rachel Crooks for Ohio Legislature
There is never a wrong time to mention the fact that nearly two dozen women have publicly accused Donald Trump of sexual assault; the long list of allegations — and his own admissions — should have tripped up his campaign long before election day. But because every day brings some fresh new outrage or scandal from the White House, the decades of abuse to which Trump subjected so many women generally fall by the wayside, ignored in favor of fresh controversies or breaking updates on old favorites, like the Russia investigation.
But Trump’s own deplorable treatment of women came back into focus this week when it was revealed — with graphic photos — that Rob Porter, his staff secretary, had beaten several ex-wives and partners. And not only did the White House know about all the allegations against Porter — the assaults prevented him from obtaining a full security clearance — but Trump actually defended Porter, even after the disgraced aide resigned. It’s almost as if there is a devil on Trump’s shoulder, daring him to say the absolute worst thing possible in any given situation.
In a cosmic flash of bittersweet poetic justice, this public reminder of Trump’s long history of sexual misconduct arrived at the same time that one of the women who accused him of assault announced that she was running for office. Rachel Crooks is running to represent the 88th house district in the Ohio legislature, waging a campaign to transform a state that voted for the man she says forcibly kissed her on the mouth in 2005.
Back then, Crooks was a receptionist for a real estate firm with offices in Trump Tower. In allegations first made public in October 2016, she says Trump introduced himself to her and then repeatedly and forcibly kissed her on the cheek and then the mouth. “It was so inappropriate,” she told the New York Times in the story detailing the event. “I was so upset that he thought I was so insignificant that he could do that.”
Crooks was only 22 at the time, while Trump was nearly 60. There could have been no greater imbalance of power, and of course Trump took advantage. Now Crooks is 35 years old and ready to fight back, not only against Trump’s misogyny, but the GOP’s policies on core issues. She currently works as the director of international student recruitment at Heidelberg University, and as she told Cosmopolitan, she has a broad platform that includes jobs, access to affordable healthcare, and repairing public schools in part by shifting funding away from charter schools.
“I think like a lot of women, because we’ve been historically underrepresented in politics, I didn’t necessarily see myself in this role,” she told Cosmo. “But multiple people encouraged and said, ‘I think you would be great.’ Once you hear it a few times, you start to believe it a little bit, and fully consider it. Once I sat down and mulled it over, I felt like it really was a duty that I had, that I should take on this responsibility firsthand and try to make a difference for other people.”