View this email in your browser

The WeLead Reader
May 25, 2019

Good Saturday morning and welcome to another edition of the WeLead Reader - your place for a week's worth of important news about women in politics. 

Do you know an accomplished post-graduate woman who wants to learn practical skills to run for office or run a political campaign?  Please direct them to our website to find our more about our 2019-2020 WeLead campaign training program.  Designed for young working professionals, the trainings are held during the year on Saturdays at American University and as
 part of our commitment to public service and gender equality in politics, we are proud to provide the program to admitted participants at no cost. Applications will be accepted until June 15th.  Read a summary of this year's WeLead graduation with keynote speaker and WeLead alum, Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-IL).  (AU School of Public Affairs). 

Check out our May WPI newsletter for a recap of our busy final weeks of the school year and a look ahead to some upcoming events this summer.

Wishing you a great holiday weekend.

Thank you for your continued support.

Betsy Fischer Martin
Executive Director
She Leads

“A welcome respite from issues of race and sexual assault”: After a series of controversial scandals this year, Virginia Democrats look to Reps. Elaine Luria, Abigail Spanberger and Jennifer Wexton to take the lead in campaigning for candidates in VA’s statehouse elections this year.  The women are stepping in for Gov. Ralph Northam, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and Attorney General Mark R. Herring who originally planned on heavy participation in 2019 campaigning until February revelations of racist yearbook photos, blackface, and sexual assault allegations surfaced. The election is critical for Virginia; all 140 General Assembly seats are up for reelection. The probe into the scandal was just completed this week, the result “inconclusive.” Washington Post

Her Vote Turns 100: Current and former women Members of Congress plus invited guests marked the centennial of the 19th amendment’s passage in the House this week. The Women's Suffrage Centennial Commission, chaired by Heritage Foundation President Kay Coles James, held a bipartisan celebration in Statuary Hall. Coles James said, “This centennial celebration ensures that we don’t forget the sacrifices, struggles, and the hard-fought victory to secure women’s right to vote.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke at the ceremony, saying she was proud to be colleagues with the men that passed women’s suffrage, and urged the crowd to imagine the cheers after the final vote. Watch the entire ceremony here, and find a timely and humorous list of “secret suffragette accessories” from The New Yorker here. Heritage Foundation

Senatorial Mom: Before Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) gave birth to her baby, Maile Pearl, no sitting senator had given birth while in office. Her perspective as a new mother in Congress laid the foundation for institutional rule changes, spearheaded by Duckworth, and opposed by senior male lawmakers. She worked to allow babies on the Senate floor so mothers of young infants could vote without impediment. Lauren Holter talks to Duckworth about her historic role in making Congress mother-friendly in this Bustle interview. Bustle

Making Room For Women To Disagree: After two decades, ABC’s ‘The View’ is actualizing Barbara Walters’s original vision for the show. With a bipartisan, active panel of all women, the daytime talk show is emerging as a mandatory stop for 2020 candidates. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), and others have appeared on the show during their race for the White House.  Quartz, New York Times

When Women Rule: Nevada made history in 2018 when it became the first state to have a female-majority General Assembly: 52% of seats are now held by women. The loosely knit group of grassroots organizations and women’s groups that trained and elected these women are seeing the fruits of their labor; with more women representation in the legislature comes a shift in culture, policy (most recently regarding abortion), and expectations. Washington Post

She Runs

New Guard Rising:  Inspired by the upset victories of Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) in the 2018 midterms, Shannon Liss-Riordan is pitching herself as a “fresh voice” to oust longtime Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) in 2020.  Liss-Riordan, a Harvard Law graduate, is well-known in Boston for her career as a prominent labor attorney, which is the basis for her motivation to run: She believes working Americans are not represented enough in Congress.  WGBH, Boston Herald, CommonWealth Magazine

Women Announce More Candidates Targeting Republicans After Anti-Abortion Law:  Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed a sweeping anti-abortion law, prompting six Democratic women across the state to declare their candidacy for state House, Senate and local government. The women are targeting officeholders that voted in favor of the law. WIN List, which backs pro-choice Democratic women, announced at a press conference seven more women that will be challenging Republican incumbents, saying “A tough abortion law was a key plank of last year’s GOP platform. There is still much work to do as we seek to finish the job of turning Georgia blue.” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Honoring Her Son: Sybrina Fulton — the mother of slain teen Trayvon Martin — announced on Monday she is running for county commission seat in Miami-Dade County. Fulton looks to “continue moving forward so our families are safe from violence, can afford to live in Miami-Dade and have access to good paying jobs.” Fulton follows Rep. Lucy McBath (D-GA) and Lesley McSpadden, who each made the decision to run for elected office after losing their sons to police gun violence. NBC News

Women on the Move

Beto Brings It: Four more women joined Beto O’Rourke’s campaign for president. Anya Lehr, Operations Director, came from VICE, where she worked as the first Director of Operations for VICE Asia Pacific in Singapore. Valerie Orellana takes on the role of Scheduling Director, coming from positions of Program Coordinator of the Health Professions Program and Assessment Coordinator in the Office of Residential Life at Dartmouth College. Sydney Watnick, Organizing Director, is a campaign veteran with experience on the state and national levels. Most recently working field operation in Houston for Beto’s US Senate campaign in 2018, Katherine Fischer is back with the O’Rourke team as the Regional Operations Director. 

She Votes

“Our vision empowers all Americans, from racial minorities to urban millennials.”: Catalyst PAC, a multi-candidate 527 group, launched to elect non-white, LGBTQ, or religious or ethnic minority Republican candidates. Calling the GOP brand “toxic,” Catalyst communications director Albert Eisenberg claims the PAC is the first of its kind on the Republican side of the aisle. The Democrats have historically capitalized on identity in elections, raking in millions of dollars each cycle through identity-based PACs, a strategy that until 2020 was criticized by the right but is now the basis for Catalyst PAC. Roll Call

Identity Politics Problems?: A false narrative around Hillary Clinton’s 2016 loss could influence 2020 votes. FiveThirtyEight asks, “Would white Democrats be inclined to choose a different type of 2020 candidate if they were told that Clinton’s 2016 loss was caused by identity politics?” They concluded, “While women’s preferences shifted substantially, men’s views remained largely unaltered.” They speculate that a reason women “might be disproportionately likely to change the way they think about the next election cycle is that gender norms call on them to be accommodating, and those norms influence people’s political decision-making.” FiveThirtyEight

Madame President?

“Really, deeply troubling”: Anita Hill worries the women running for president are not being taken seriously. She calls it a “tragedy” and urges the questions of vice presidential candidacy to cease. Hill says her worries aren’t exclusively pertinent to former vice president Joe Biden, who chaired the committee during Hill’s 1991 testimony against Clarence Thomas, but to all male candidates.  New York Times

Kirsten Gillibrand

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) released a comprehensive plan for women’s reproductive rights in the wake of national controversy around restrictive abortion laws. She calls it the ‘Family Bill Of Rights.’ (NBC News, Axios, New York Times, NowThis News).

Yesterday, Gillibrand hosted a roundtable on on her Family Bill of Rights at the West Des Moines Public Library. Later that day, Gillibrand stopped at Better Day Cafe in Storm Lake, IA to chat with Iowa voters  for “coffee and conversation.” She ended the night in Fort Dodge at Shiny-Top Brewery for a meet-and-greet.

Today she is in Iowa Falls for another discussion on her Family Bill of Rights at The Coffee Attic. She is hosting three more meet-and-greets throughout the day, in Mason City, Charles City, and Waterloo. Gillibrand will change it up with a walking tour of Cedar Falls with the president of College and Young Democrats of Iowa, starting at Scratch Cupcakery. She ends her weekend in Waterloo, where she will attend the church services of Mount Carmel Missionary Baptist Church.

News & Analysis

  • Kirsten Gillibrand Says If Trump Wants A War With America's Women, 'He Will Lose' NPR
  • Kirsten Gillibrand Can't Break Through – Is Sexism To Blame? The Guardian
  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand Unveils First 100 Days Plan The Daily Beast
  • Oh, Geeze. Gillibrand Endorses The Idea Of Adding This New State To The Union Townhall
  • Kirsten Gillibrand’s New Policies Aim To Make Raising A Family Easier New York Magazine
  • Sen. Gillibrand Launches LGBTQ Clothing Line: ‘Shop The New Brave And Proud Collection’
Opinions & Columns
  • Jennifer Rubin: Kirsten Gillibrand Plans To Stay Front And Center in the Abortion Fight
    Washington Post
  • Tucker Carlson: Kirsten Gillibrand And The Left Don't Believe Americans Deserve Their Country Fox News

Kamala Harris

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) stirred up the business world this week by saying she supports fining companies that do not achieve pay equity (CNN Politics, WCYB News 5, Washington PostPOLITICO, New York Times). The Washington Free Beacon and The Washington Times believe Harris has some explaining to do: They claim she paid men more than women in her Senate office and on the campaign trail.

Harris appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert where she talked about the wage gap, Washington’s favorite punchline: ‘Infrastructure Week,’ and Congressional investigations (Mediaite, PolitiFact, The Week).  The senator was scheduled to visit western Iowa, but instead stayed in D.C. to vote on disaster relief aid (Des Moines Register). Stopping in South Los Angeles, Harris held a rally at Southwest College.

Next week, Harris heads to South Carolina for a televised town hall at Wofford College on Wednesday night. On Thursday, she will hold a meet and greet at the Westside Community Center in Anderson. Then on to Greenville, where she will host another meet and greet, followed by a town hall, at West End Community Center. At the town hall, Harris will talk about her proposals regarding education and equal pay.

News & Analysis

  • The Unknowable Kamala Harris: The Complicated Career Of A Self-Proclaimed Progressive Prosecutor The California Sunday Magazine
  • Kamala Harris Faces Risks Tiptoeing Between Moderation And Revolution Bloomberg
  • How Kamala Harris Would Address The Maternal Mortality Crisis POLITICO
  • Lexington: Kamala Harris Is Doing Better Than She Deserves The Economist
  • Kamala Harris Now Supports Independent Investigations Of Fatal Police Shootings CNN Politics
  • Harris Narrowly Outspent Trump Last Week On Facebook NBC News
  • Bern Notice: Kamala Harris Ties Bernie Sanders In Early Democratic Primary States Mediaite
Opinions & Columns
  • Callie Crossley: The Congressional Black Caucus Should Not Diminish Kamala Harris WGBH
  • Jennifer Rubin: Could Kamala Harris Be The Anti-Biden? Washington Post

Amy Klobuchar

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) took a trip through New Hampshire last weekend, where she gave the keynote speech at the Cheshire County Democrats’ annual spaghetti dinner. On Sunday evening, in a forum on the changing economy at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, Klobuchar talked about her experience in regulating mergers and mega-mergers. She told the group she is a supporter of “capitalism for shared prosperity.” In Salem, NH, Klobuchar visited an assisted living/mental care facility where she reflected on her father’s experience with Alzheimer’s.

Klobuchar also visited Detroit, claiming Michigan is key to taking back the White House. In Ann Arbor, Klobuchar got animated about the recent abortion bans, which she said are turning women into “political pawns.”  In her home state of Minnesota, Klobuchar spent Thursday afternoon at a roundtable over the opioid crisis (Voice of Alexandria).

Tomorrow, Klobuchar is revisiting Nevada at the Livery Deli in Boone. She will meet with residents and discuss their concerns.

News & Analysis

  • How Sen. Amy Klobuchar Would Regulate Big Business POLITICO
  • Klobuchar Talks 'Dangerous' Abortion Laws, 2020 Polls On FOX News Sunday Fox News
  • Klobuchar Becomes 13th Democratic Candidate To Pledge Not To Accept Fossil Fuel Money The Hill
  • Klobuchar: Trump 'Using Immigrants As Pawns' Minnesota Star Tribune
  • Klobuchar Features Pastries From Bloedow Bakery At Minnesota Morning Winona Daily News

Elizabeth Warren

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) visited Portsmouth, New Hampshire last Saturday, for the annual Rockingham County Democratic clambake (Washington Examiner, NHPR). The event was the day after Warren announced a plan for reproductive rights, of which she said at the event, “We have fought defense against one state legislature after another, and my view on this now is: Enough. It is time for us to fight, and not just fight back defensively, but also to push forward.” Later on Saturday, Warren hosted a town hall in Rochester, NH.

Warren’s campaign started slowly and has rapidly picked up steam in recent weeks. New York Magazine looks at her “slow and persistent” rise, Vox and Fox News analyze her uptick in the polls, and Fox News’s Colin Reed asks of her growing popularity, “Is she in it to win it?” Business Insider believes Warren’s newfound success is a result of her staked claim as the policy wonk candidate.

News & Analysis
  • Elizabeth Warren’s Corporate Advocacy Past Could Ding Image As Working-Class Champion Fox News
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren Has A Plan For Everything — Including Your Love Life NPR
  • Elizabeth Warren Says No To Giving For-Profit Charter Schools Public Tax Dollars The Daily Caller
  • 'Missed Opportunity.' Warren's Opioid Plan Has A Major Blind Spot, Experts Say Fortune
  • Exclusive: Elizabeth Warren Delves Deeper Into Her LGBTQ Agenda NewNowNext
  • Why It Won't Be Easy For Elizabeth Warren To Take Bernie Sanders' Base CNN Politics
  • Elizabeth Warren Decries Big Money In Politics. Her Campaign Treasurer Embodies It. Center For Public Integrity
  • To Make Her Wealth Tax Work, Elizabeth Warren Must Revive The IRS Washington Post
  • “Elizabeth Warren Called Me!” Is Turning Into A Meme Vox
  • While Teaching, Warren Worked On About 60 Legal Matters, Far More Than She’d Previously Disclosed Washington Post
  • Would Elizabeth Warren’s Wealth Tax Work? Yahoo! Finance
Opinions & Columns
  • Elizabeth Warren: Big, Structural Change: We’ve Done It Before, And We Can Do It Again Medium
  • Bill Maher: Elizabeth Warren Wrong About Not Going On FOX News, "That's Where The Votes Are" RealClearPolitics
  • Bonnie Goldstein: I'm The Same Age As Elizabeth Warren. We 70-Somethings Have No Business Being President. USA Today

Tulsi Gabbard

  • 2020 Candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Presses That U.S. Must Not Go To War With Iran ABC News
  • Gabbard Calls Unflattering Report 'Fake News' POLITICO
  • Matt Taibi: We’ve Hit A New Low In Campaign Hit Pieces Rolling Stone
  • Gabbard Continues To Poll Poorly In Presidential Field Honolulu Civil Beat

Marianne Williamson

Marianne Williamson visited New Hampshire for a three-day campaign trip from Tuesday to Thursday. On Wednesday evening, Williamson visited a yoga center in Keene, NH to answer questions from supporters. She finished the day with a fundraising house party.

Williamson also visited Maryville, Tennessee, breaking away from her peaceful, “spiritual advisor” persona and railing off a list of issues that anger her: war, poverty, racism and “exploding voter suppression.”

  • 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson 1-On-1 Yahoo News
  • Marianne Williamson Preaches A Message Of Love In The Democratic Primary Time
  • Long-Shot 2020 Dem Williamson Slams DNC For Debate Criteria Fox News
  • 'I'm For Capitalism With A Conscience,' Says Williamson Bloomberg
  • Spirituality Guru Marianne Williamson Locks In 2020 Debate Spot POLITICO
  • Marianne Williamson On HIV, Slavery Reparations, And America's Future HIV Plus Magazine
Women to Watch (or Listen to)

Just Ask Jackie: Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) sat down with “It’s All Politics” host Joe Garofoli and opened up about why fighting for women’s rights is such a personal issue for her, and why she continues. San Francisco Chronicle

Getting Frank About Franken: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) appeared on 'PBS Newshour' for a discussion over “being brave” when allegations against sexual assault came out against former Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), and her thoughts on President Trump’s trade policies. Judy Woodruff interviews Gillibrand in this ten minute interview. PBS Newshour

The Pink Wave Is For All Women: Andrea Bozek, spokesperson for the conservative group Winning for Women, appeared on CBSN Originals to discuss the role of Republican women in the “pink wave.” When asked if she thinks Republicans are “doing enough to capitalize on the energy,” she is straightforward, “No.” Winning for Women hopes to rally GOP women in the country going into 2020, urging them to run for office. CBSN Originals

Sunday Morning  DVR Alert (from our friends at POLITICO Playbook)
ABC This Week:  Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ)
NBC Meet the Press:  White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders
CNN State of the Union: Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA)


Research Hub

Empowered Women Empower Women: The 2018 midterms resulted in 39 new women in Congress, bringing the total number of women in the House and Senate to 127. Talk Media News looked at the staff composition of the female Members: 52 have female chiefs of staff, 49 have female legislative directors and 49 have female communications directors. 31 have female press secretaries and 100 have female schedulers. The freshmen congresswomen are making the biggest difference in female hires: 54% have hired women in three or more leadership positions, compared to 33% of senior congresswomen. Talk Media News

Ripple Effect: The Wall Street Journal compiled data from campaigns of former Vice President Joe Biden; Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT); Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA); Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA); Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ); Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN); Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY); South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg; and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro. The data shows that the majority of senior staff on the campaigns are women. More than that, many of the senior staff are of ethnically and racially diverse backgrounds, including Julián Castro’s campaign manager Maya Rupert, who is only the third black woman to be a presidential campaign manager. Rupert told The Wall Street Journal that “some black women at campaign events said they looked up to her as a role model, adding that her unique position adds pressure to make sure Mr. Castro succeeds.” President Trump’s staff is nearly entirely white, but a majority of his senior staffers are women. The Wall Street Journal

In Case You Missed It

May Day:  Standing in front of 10 Downing Street, British Prime Minister Theresa May announced her resignation as leader of the Conservative Party effective June 7th saying it was in the "best interests of the country for a new prime minister" to lead Britain through the Brexit process. New York Times, The Guardian Full Speech

‘The Merkel Model’: Kati Marton writes in The Atlantic a plea to the six women running for president: Look to German Chancellor Angela Merkel for guidance on leadership and “how to win in a man’s world.” She lists a slew of rules from the ‘Merkel Manual,’ ranging from maintaining privacy in private affairs to out-preparing her opponents. “Merkel’s entire record as chancellor illustrates that relations between nations cannot be held hostage to hubris.” The Atlantic

Into the Streets: More than 500 #StopTheBan protests took place across the country in the wake of restrictive abortion bans in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky, Missouri, and Ohio. The ACLU, the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL), the Women's March, and Planned Parenthood helped organize the demonstrations. Impassioned women marchers are asking, “Where were the men?” BuzzFeed News, Cosmopolitan

“This was written by men.”: HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’ series finale received heaps of criticism, and not only from casual at-home viewers. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) appeared in a short clip with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) ripping the finale for its “unsatisfying” and “unambitious” storylines of women. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) also called out sexist undertones in the finale, saying of Khaleesi’s failed ascent to power, “I thought it was cheap, and I was very unhappy." Elle

She Said...

“I think we should just celebrate more having working moms in Congress and the perspective that they bring, the value of having that perspective represented.”

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA)
Mother of three young children
New York Times


Contributing writers:  Jessica Francis, My-lien Le, Emily Martin, Julie Russell and Alexis Simmons

About Us: 
The nonpartisan Women & Politics Institute at American University provides academic training to young women that encourages them to become involved in the political process and facilitates research by faculty and students that enhances our understanding of the challenges and opportunities women face in the political arena.

Our mailing address is:
4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Kerwin Hall, Room 109E
Washington, DC 20016
Contact us with any questions or feedback:

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.