Democratic women flipped five House seats in Virginia and Florida last night, helping their party win control of the House.
Donna Shalala (D-FL, 27th) beat Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL, 27th) in the race to replace retiring Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL, 27th) in the Miami-based district. Ros-Lehtinen campaigned with Salazar, a former television anchor, but Shalala was favored to win in the left-leaning district. Shalala, former Health and Human Services Secretary to President Bill Clinton, is known in the district for her successful stint as president of the University of Miami. During her campaign, she emphasized her credentials and tied her opponent to President Donald Trump.
Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL, 26th) lost his neighboring district to Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL, 26th), by less than two points. Curbelo is a moderate Republican who has criticized President Trump and Republicans’ immigration policy, but Democrats targeted his seat after Hillary Clinton won the district by a margin of 16 points in 2016. Mucarsel-Powell campaigned on healthcare issues, slamming Curbelo for voting to repeal Obamacare. She immigrated to the United States from Ecuador as a child and has worked at nonprofits and as an associate dean at Florida International University.
In Virginia, Elaine Luria (D-VA, 2nd) squeaked out a win against fellow Navy veteran and incumbent Rep. Scott Taylor (R-VA, 2nd). Taylor faced scrutiny for allegations that his campaign used false voting information to get an independent candidate on the ballot to draw votes away from Luria. He hasn’t represented the district long; he was first elected to the House in 2016.
Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA, 7th) was ousted by former C.I.A. officer Abigail Spanberger (D-VA, 7th), four years after he beat sitting House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA, 7th) in the 2014 Republican primary. Virginia’s 7th congressional district includes suburbs of Richmond and rural areas beyond, and usually votes for conservative candidates; Spanberger appealed to voters with her anti-terrorism background and was bolstered by women’s groups who organized voters and canvassed on her behalf.
Jennifer Wexton (D-VA, 10th) easily beat Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA, 10th) by 12 points in an expected pickup for the Democrats, despite the $5 million the NRCC poured into the race. Wexton, a state legislator, made waves by comparing her opponent to President Donald Trump, who is unpopular in the left-moving Northern Virginia district. Hillary Clinton won there by 10 points in 2016, and though Comstock won re-election by 16 points that year as well, in 2017, the 10th District elected Gov. Ralph Northam (D-VA).
It’s worth noting that, in what would be a record, at least 100 female House candidates – Democratic and Republican – are projected to win seats.