4 Women Try to Unseat House Republicans in N.Y.; Donors and Celebrities Take Notice

In most any other election year, the four female Democratic candidates in New York trying to unseat House Republicans would draw little more than curiosity.

But this year, as a record number of women are running for Congress, propelled by both a blue wave and the #MeToo movement, is clearly different.

In most any other election year, the four female Democratic candidates in New York trying to unseat House Republicans would draw little more than curiosity.

But this year, as a record number of women are running for Congress, propelled by both a blue wave and the #MeToo movement, is clearly different.

In the last three months alone, donors sent millions of dollars in contributions to the four women, led by Dana Balter, who received $1.5 million in her bid to defeat Representative John Katko in the Syracuse area.

Less than two weeks before the midterm elections, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report no longer lists any of the nine Republican-held seats as “solid Republican.” The last holdout — Representative Tom Reed, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, who is facing Tracy Mitrano, one of the four female Democratic hopefuls — had his seat downgraded to “likely Republican” on Tuesday.

Likewise, the Cook Report had earlier changed its assessment of the Katko seat from “likely Republican” to “lean Republican,” and had shifted a seat held by Representative Peter King, a 13-term incumbent from Long Island, from “solid Republican” to “likely Republican.”

Mr. King is facing Liuba Grechen Shirley, who made national headlines after successfully petitioning the Federal Election Commission for permission to use campaign funds to pay for child care. Her children are 2 and 4.

“People have had enough of millionaires in Congress who don’t get the struggle of child care and student loans and affording a home,” she said in a phone interview.

New York is one of nine states with four or more female Democrats challenging Republican House incumbents, trailing only Texas, California, Florida and Ohio, according to Rutgers University’s Center for American Women and Politics. And of the four women in New York, all but one, Tedra Cobb, a former county legislator who is taking on Representative Elise Stefanik, are making their first runs for public office.

Who Raised More Money? In a Majority of Tight House Races, Democrats Did

With the midterm elections approaching, we tracked the war chests of candidates in the tightest House races.

In the Second District on Long Island, Ms. Grechen Shirley’s challenge to Mr. King has overtones of the Democratic primary upset in Queens, where Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defeated the longtime incumbent, Representative Joseph Crowley.

Mr. King has served in Congress for 25 years, and his district has 5,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans.

In August, Ms. Grechen Shirley, 37, was one of five female congressional candidates from around the country invited to participate in a fund-raiser headlined by Hillary Clinton in New York. Ms. Clinton had also written a letter to the F.E.C. on Ms. Grechen Shirley’s behalf.

This month, the candidate, who had worked in global economic development, reported a third-quarter haul of $722,000; on Sunday, the comedian and activist Amy Schumer will host a comedy-show fund-raiser for Ms. Grechen Shirley.

In a phone interview, Mr. King seemed unfazed by his opponent’s growing stature. “I’m just running on my record,” he said. “I look at the polls and feel good, but I take nothing for granted.”

In upstate New York, Ms. Balter, 42, a first-time candidate whose résumé includes working on behalf of people with disabilities and teaching public policy at Syracuse University, has had her own string of successes, starting with a primary victory over Juanita Perez Williams.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had initially chosen Ms. Perez Williams for its “red to blue” program, which gives selected candidates extra financial and logistical help, over the protests of the local Democratic committees, which had rallied around Ms. Balter. But not long after Ms. Balter defeated Ms. Perez Williams in the June primary, the organization backed Ms. Balter.

Earlier this month, Ms. Balter snagged a prized endorsement from President Barack Obama, who has also blessed two other congressional challengers in New York, Max Rose of Staten Island and Antonio Delgado of the Hudson Valley.

“I was hoping it would come with a knock on the door and a handshake,” she joked about Mr. Obama’s endorsement, which she had not sought but nonetheless celebrated.

Her strides against Mr. Katko, who prides himself on his bipartisan record in Washington, come in a district that has 11,000 more Democrats than Republicans. One poll had her up by four points in early August. (Another had her down by 15, but that survey also showed her trailing her primary opponent.)

The two other female Democratic challengers in New York have also fared better than some election observers might have predicted.

Ms. Cobb is the only one of the four Democratic women who is taking on a female incumbent in Ms. Stefanik, in a district in upstate New York that has 50,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats. Still, Ms. Cobb, who has crisscrossed the vast district, shaking hands at county fairs, managed to raise $1.1 million through the end of September.

In the Southern Tier of New York, Ms. Mitrano, a cybersecurity expert and former professor, was thought to be a long shot simply by virtue of demographics: Registered Republicans outnumber Democrats by 23,000 in the district. With several thousand dollars left in late June after a bruising primary, Ms. Mitrano raised nearly a million dollars in the past three months, enough to pay for television ads.

“When you have someone running who’s taken on the F.E.C. to fight for child care, that’s very different from what you have in Congress now,” Jesse Ferguson, a Democratic strategist who was the former deputy executive director of the D.C.C.C., said of Ms. Grechen Shirley.

“And when you have someone who built a career out of helping people with disabilities, that’s also different from what’s in Congress right now,” he added, referring to Ms. Balter’s work history. “The bottom line is not only do voters not want a Trump-controlled Congress, but donors want change, too.”

Ms. Balter has her own theories about why candidacies like her own have struck a chord with voters. Among Democrats, unaffiliated voters and some moderate Republicans, she said, there is a growing unease with the influence of corporate money in Washington, one that has manifested itself in a “political renaissance.”

“It was helped by Donald Trump,” she said, “but it’s about far more than him. It’s people coming to understand that we have the power to shape the society in which we live. But if money is the entry fee, that’s fundamentally undemocratic. People are saying, ‘Enough. I’m taking back control.’”

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4 Women Try to Unseat House Republicans in N.Y.; Donors and Celebrities Take Notice

In most any other election year, the four female Democratic candidates in New York trying to unseat House Republicans would draw little more than curiosity.

But this year, as a record number of women are running for Congress, propelled by both a blue wave and the #MeToo movement, is clearly different.

In most any other election year, the four female Democratic candidates in New York trying to unseat House Republicans would draw little more than curiosity.

But this year, as a record number of women are running for Congress, propelled by both a blue wave and the #MeToo movement, is clearly different.

In the last three months alone, donors sent millions of dollars in contributions to the four women, led by Dana Balter, who received $1.5 million in her bid to defeat Representative John Katko in the Syracuse area.

Less than two weeks before the midterm elections, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report no longer lists any of the nine Republican-held seats as “solid Republican.” The last holdout — Representative Tom Reed, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, who is facing Tracy Mitrano, one of the four female Democratic hopefuls — had his seat downgraded to “likely Republican” on Tuesday.

Likewise, the Cook Report had earlier changed its assessment of the Katko seat from “likely Republican” to “lean Republican,” and had shifted a seat held by Representative Peter King, a 13-term incumbent from Long Island, from “solid Republican” to “likely Republican.”

Mr. King is facing Liuba Grechen Shirley, who made national headlines after successfully petitioning the Federal Election Commission for permission to use campaign funds to pay for child care. Her children are 2 and 4.

“People have had enough of millionaires in Congress who don’t get the struggle of child care and student loans and affording a home,” she said in a phone interview.

New York is one of nine states with four or more female Democrats challenging Republican House incumbents, trailing only Texas, California, Florida and Ohio, according to Rutgers University’s Center for American Women and Politics. And of the four women in New York, all but one, Tedra Cobb, a former county legislator who is taking on Representative Elise Stefanik, are making their first runs for public office.

Who Raised More Money? In a Majority of Tight House Races, Democrats Did

With the midterm elections approaching, we tracked the war chests of candidates in the tightest House races.

In the Second District on Long Island, Ms. Grechen Shirley’s challenge to Mr. King has overtones of the Democratic primary upset in Queens, where Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defeated the longtime incumbent, Representative Joseph Crowley.

Mr. King has served in Congress for 25 years, and his district has 5,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans.

In August, Ms. Grechen Shirley, 37, was one of five female congressional candidates from around the country invited to participate in a fund-raiser headlined by Hillary Clinton in New York. Ms. Clinton had also written a letter to the F.E.C. on Ms. Grechen Shirley’s behalf.

This month, the candidate, who had worked in global economic development, reported a third-quarter haul of $722,000; on Sunday, the comedian and activist Amy Schumer will host a comedy-show fund-raiser for Ms. Grechen Shirley.

In a phone interview, Mr. King seemed unfazed by his opponent’s growing stature. “I’m just running on my record,” he said. “I look at the polls and feel good, but I take nothing for granted.”

In upstate New York, Ms. Balter, 42, a first-time candidate whose résumé includes working on behalf of people with disabilities and teaching public policy at Syracuse University, has had her own string of successes, starting with a primary victory over Juanita Perez Williams.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had initially chosen Ms. Perez Williams for its “red to blue” program, which gives selected candidates extra financial and logistical help, over the protests of the local Democratic committees, which had rallied around Ms. Balter. But not long after Ms. Balter defeated Ms. Perez Williams in the June primary, the organization backed Ms. Balter.

Earlier this month, Ms. Balter snagged a prized endorsement from President Barack Obama, who has also blessed two other congressional challengers in New York, Max Rose of Staten Island and Antonio Delgado of the Hudson Valley.

“I was hoping it would come with a knock on the door and a handshake,” she joked about Mr. Obama’s endorsement, which she had not sought but nonetheless celebrated.

Her strides against Mr. Katko, who prides himself on his bipartisan record in Washington, come in a district that has 11,000 more Democrats than Republicans. One poll had her up by four points in early August. (Another had her down by 15, but that survey also showed her trailing her primary opponent.)

The two other female Democratic challengers in New York have also fared better than some election observers might have predicted.

Ms. Cobb is the only one of the four Democratic women who is taking on a female incumbent in Ms. Stefanik, in a district in upstate New York that has 50,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats. Still, Ms. Cobb, who has crisscrossed the vast district, shaking hands at county fairs, managed to raise $1.1 million through the end of September.

In the Southern Tier of New York, Ms. Mitrano, a cybersecurity expert and former professor, was thought to be a long shot simply by virtue of demographics: Registered Republicans outnumber Democrats by 23,000 in the district. With several thousand dollars left in late June after a bruising primary, Ms. Mitrano raised nearly a million dollars in the past three months, enough to pay for television ads.

“When you have someone running who’s taken on the F.E.C. to fight for child care, that’s very different from what you have in Congress now,” Jesse Ferguson, a Democratic strategist who was the former deputy executive director of the D.C.C.C., said of Ms. Grechen Shirley.

“And when you have someone who built a career out of helping people with disabilities, that’s also different from what’s in Congress right now,” he added, referring to Ms. Balter’s work history. “The bottom line is not only do voters not want a Trump-controlled Congress, but donors want change, too.”

Ms. Balter has her own theories about why candidacies like her own have struck a chord with voters. Among Democrats, unaffiliated voters and some moderate Republicans, she said, there is a growing unease with the influence of corporate money in Washington, one that has manifested itself in a “political renaissance.”

“It was helped by Donald Trump,” she said, “but it’s about far more than him. It’s people coming to understand that we have the power to shape the society in which we live. But if money is the entry fee, that’s fundamentally undemocratic. People are saying, ‘Enough. I’m taking back control.’”

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