After the past couple of weeks, you’ve got to wonder whether anyone out there is still underestimating the power of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
There is someone who is overestimating it, though.
U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, who switched from majority whip to minority whip when the Republicans resoundingly lost the House to Pelosi’s Democrats, appeared at a recent launch of a PAC aimed at recruiting more women to run as Republicans.
And he offered a curious diagnosis for the party’s difficulty in fielding successful female candidates. According to a transcript provided by Congressional Quarterly, Scalise had this to say of the 2018 cycle, in which 91 Democratic women where elected to the U.S. House – a net gain of 27 over the last term – but only 16 Republican women made the cut, down nine from last time.
“I've noticed that when female members run on the Republican side, Nancy Pelosi will spend a lot more money, in many cases twice as much more to defeat Republican female candidates incumbents,” he said. “We need to do a better job of recruiting to make sure we recruit really good female candidates and what Elise PAC is doing, EPAC, is making sure that we recognize that when female candidates run as Republicans, Nancy Pelosi does not want our party to look diverse.”
So, that’s one explanation for the stark disparity – and, to extrapolate, for the fact that 59 percent of female voters chose Democratic candidates for Congress last year, according to exit polls, while 40 percent voted for Republicans. Here, off the top of my head, are a few others.
There was the Republican Party’s push to overturn the Affordable Care Act, which provides benefits not only for women’s health but for people with pre-existing conditions. There’s the administration policy of separating children from their parents at the southern border. There was President Donald Trump’s boast of being able to grab women by the you-know-what with impunity.
Not every woman is put off by these things, but surely plenty are. The numbers don’t lie.
As for Pelosi targeting certain districts, doesn’t it make more sense to believe that she identified likely Democratic pick-ups, the way any male strategist of her caliber would?
So nice try, Rep. Scalise. I’m sure the speaker appreciates the compliment. But maybe you and your side can claim some of the credit here too.