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2018 Midterms

In the Hot Seat: Women Take on the Heartland Primaries

From Michigan to Missouri, tides of a progressive wave are slowly rising.

Duane Paul Murphy

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On the night of August 8, 2018, hundreds of thousands of registered voters across various Midwestern states in Michigan, Ohio, Missouri, and Kansas went to the polls yesterday to determine their nominees for the upcoming general elections in November. From governor races to a special congressional election, the primaries in Heartland are showing that the future is female and progressive. While some candidates have won, lost, or have yet to declare victory or defeat, these primaries continue to highlight the overall national divide between voters, candidates, and incumbent politicians.

In Ohio’s 12th Congressional, which encompasses rural and suburban communities outside the state capital city of Columbus, Republican Ohio state legislator Troy Balderson is leading Democratic Franklin County Recorder with 50.2% of the vote or by 1,700 votes. While the final results will not be officialized yet until all provisional ballots are counted for sometime during the week, some users on Twitter have demonized the special election’s Green Party candidate, Joe Manchik, for possibly spoiling the results.

In neighboring Michigan, former state legislator Gretchen Whitmer defeated progressive grassroots candidate Dr. Abdul El-Sayed and businessman Shri Thanedar in the Democratic Party primary for governor. If she defeats the Republican nominee, incumbent state Attorney General Bill Schuette, Whitmer will become Michigan’s second female governor after former Governor and state Attorney General Jenifer Granholm. In Michigan’s 13th Congressional District, a Democratic Party stronghold that includes most of Metro Detroit, former state representative Rashida Tlaib won her primary to replace outgoing longtime Congressman John Conyers. With the endorsement from progressive organizations, Tlaib will become the country’s first Muslim congresswoman.

In nearby Missouri, while incumbent Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill will compete against incumbent state Attorney General Josh Hawley in a toss-up race and political activist Cori Bush lost her congressional primary race against incumbent St. Louis Congressman Lacy Clay, voters statewide successfully voted to overturn the state’s recently passed right-to-work law in which organized labor said that it would undermine workers’ protections in the private sector.

Meanwhile, in Kansas, former MMA fighter Sharice Davids defeated Bernie Sanders backed candidate progressive attorney Brent Welder in the Democratic Party primary for Kansas’s 3rd Congressional, which includes Kansas City, against incumbent Republican Congressman Kevin Yoder. If she wins, she will become one of the first Native American women ever elected to Congress. Primaries in Kansas was also another big night for women in politics as state senators Laura Kelly and Lynn Rogers won the Democratic Party’s gubernatorial primaries. If elected in November, they will become the first female governor and lieutenant governor elected to the state office together.

As other primaries nationwide gear up before the general elections in November, one trend is becoming clear: the future of politics is going female and inclusive. States such as Hawaii, Florida, and Wisconsin will hold their primaries sometime in August.

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Duane Paul Murphy is a D.C. college student and student journalist born and raised in Southern California. Currently studying for his bachelor’s in politics and a minor in media studies, Duane Paul is interested in covering domestic as well as international political affairs that impact the lives of everyday people, whether they are young students, professionals, or faculty in higher education.

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