Women's March aims to get female candidates and allies elected
They're also pushing for 1 million new voters
They’ve said, Time’s Up. They’ve said, Me Too. And now they’re saying: If you’re not an ally, we’re coming for your seat.
Longtime activist Linda Sarsour, a Women’s March co-organizer, has no doubts women can keep the movement churning toward action in November. Just look at the thousands who rallied this weekend, one year after the first Women’s March in Washington, she said.
“We proved that we were able to maintain the momentum for the last year,” she said.
The Las Vegas rally on Sunday was the official anniversary rally of last year’s Women’s March in Washington. But around the world, women marched in solidarity in more than 500 events across six continents over the weekend – from Wellington, New Zealand; to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan; to Lusaka, Zambia; to Seville, Spain; to Quito, Ecuador; to Statesboro, Georgia; and Sandpoint, Idaho.
This year’s theme – “Power to the Polls” – lay bare the organizers’ focus: To get women to the polls to put other women and their allies in power.
“We’re going to win this year,” Sarsour said Sunday at the Las Vegas event. “We will win. This is not an opinion. It is a fact because women are going to bring us to victory.”
Election goals: More women and allies in office
Organizers have identified battlegrounds in districts in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin and other states, Sarsour said. Among their aims is to get state Rep. Paulette Jordan to be elected the first Native American woman governor of Idaho, Stacey Abrams as the first African-American woman governor of Georgia, and Abdul El-Sayed as the first Muslim-American governor of Michigan.
“Not only will we win this year … but we’re going to make history together,” Sarsour said.
More than 26,000 women have signed up to run for office, according to Emily’s List, which aims to put pro-choice Democratic women in power.
The website features candidates like Mai Khanh Tran, a pediatrician running for a seat being vacated by retiring Republican Congressman Ed Royce in Orange County, California and Congresswoman Jacky Rosen who is challenging Republican Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada.
Last year, hundreds of women quickly filled up a training session set up the day after Washington march to give them the tools they need to run for office, Sarsour said. Another session held in Detroit in October hosted 400 women, she said.
“There are a lot of people who are fired up, but they need education. They need training,” she said.
Progressive women hope to turn their activism into victories at the ballot box. Already there have been wins, such as those achieved in the Virginia House of Delegates, where women won 11 seats, Sarsour said. Among the winners were the state’s first transgender legislator and its first two Latina lawmakers.
“In my generation, I’ve never seen anything like it,” she said. “I’m just grateful to be alive at this moment, to see people rise up around the world.”
Another goal: Register 1 million new voters
In addition to supporting candidates, there’s a concerted effort looking at increasing voter engagement.
“It’s really about electoral engagement in 2018,” said Women’s March spokeswoman Cassady Fendlay said.
This year’s events underlined a focus on training for people who want to increase voter participation in their community, she said. Women’s March wants to help people advocate for policies and candidates supportive of the progressive causes targeted by the Trump administration, including rights for immigrants, people of color, and the LGBTQ community.
“We’ve had to resist so many policies rooted in racism, sexism and xenophobia,” Fendlay said. “We want to see activists creating a groundswell around candidates that recognize what our nation looks like, and protecting those under attack.”
Organizers are targeting areas with “voter suppression laws,” Sarsour said, and they’re aiming to register 1 million new voters through a text message initiative that guides people through the process.
Marches, rallies and other events focused on specific activities, such as registering voters or training people to register voters.
“We want to make change to (the) system through voting and registering and women running for office. And the more women we have in office the less we have to worry about Trump,” said Sophia Andary, co-leader of the Women’s March San Francisco.
Gioconda Aviles came to the Los Angeles march with her 9-year-old twin daughters.
“I think women are more empowered this year,” Aviles, who attended the march last year as well, told CNN. “I can’t believe we have the president we have. I’m Latina, pushed to get Latinos to vote. Clearly we didn’t do a good job. I think we need to make the difference in 2018.”
CNN’s Juana Summers, Sophie Tatum, Miguel Marquez, Dakin Andone and Emanuella Grinberg contributed to this report.