• Carin Elam

Parting of a Red Sea

Updated: Oct 23, 2020

Democratic Women Running in Deeply Red States

Following a presidential election, a map of the United States would provide closure to voters exhausted from a long election season. Seeing electoral results portrayed in red and blue was oddly comforting; similar to seeing the minutes run-out during a championship game. One might be disappointed that the game was over, but one team emerged the winner and those watching returned to their work, home, life.

For years, the different colors (at a very basic level) represented party platform policy differences, such as the importance of deficit reduction, or foreign policy priorities, or the size of social benefit programs. But, now it feels different. Today, voting 'red' or 'blue' extends to an assessment of one's core values. Voting for Trump means that a voter has to look past quite a lot (e.g., abuse of office leading to impeachment, pre-COVID tripling of the deficit, mishandling of pandemic response leading to the deaths of 150,000 - 200,000 Americans, questioning of Science, normalization of alternative facts, constant portrayal of a cursing anti-Superman/anti-Clark Kent/anti-all American moral character, etc.). And, a voter watching something beyond Fox News/Sinclair Broadcasting would know that none of this would have been possible without the Truman Show of enablers who amplified and normalized Trump's message.

Therefore, voters who may have automatically voted 'straight-ticket' for all down-ballot GOP candidates, are looking to choose between: voting for no one or voting 'blue'. This has given Democrats an opening in previously unflippable red states and Districts.

To win these votes, red-state Democrats are working incredibly hard to talk with voters, share their policy ideas and get-out-the-vote. Of all the women running, three are seeking the highest state office: Dr. Shelley Lenz is running for North Dakota's Governor, Nicole Galloway is running for Governor of Missouri, and Elaine Marshall is defending her seat as North Carolina's Secretary of State. While Ms. Marshall is looks to win another term, unfortunately, the two women running for Governor are behind in the polls. Despite this, neither are slowing in their efforts to meet voters and defy the odds.

Dr. Lenz is in the mold of the women who were part of the 2018 blue wave. She is a political novice. When campaigning, she explains that she is a veterinarian, businesswoman, and humanitarian. She will focus on "building bridges across the state, across the aisle, and across generations to make government work for all North Dakotans". She's attacking her Republican opponent on his handling of the pandemic. She's quoted as saying, “His crybaby approach isn’t working. I think his tears are real, but that’s not what we need in a leader. He’s putting the blame on businesses and individuals.”

Nicole Galloway currently serves as Missouri State Auditor and, after former U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill's loss in 2018, the only Democrat serving in a Missouri statewide office. Although she is behind in the polls, Missouri Republicans are nervous enough about the race that they've recently issued bizarre attacks against her; accusing her of far-left positions. She's taking this as acknowledgement that her campaign is connecting with voters.

Twenty-two Democrats serve as a state's Secretary of State, but very few women hold this position. Elaine Marshall is the rare exception, having held this office since 1997. In 2016, she was re-elected to a sixth term with 52% of the vote, earning a higher share of the vote than any other Democrat running statewide.

These are just a few examples of the red-state Democrats hoping for a #womenswave in 2020. They're doing their best to explain that the Democratic party is focused on solutions for families struggling to recover from the hardships of 2020.



  1. https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/09/29/america-prosecute-presidents-pardon-trump-nixon/

  2. https://lenz-vigfornd.com/

  3. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/11/01/upshot/many-ways-to-map-election-results.html

  4. https://apnews.com/article/virus-outbreak-bismarck-doug-burgum-north-dakota-elections-0d2f470fe7a14a5ce156b6724de3bce7

  5. https://news.stlpublicradio.org/show/st-louis-on-the-air/2020-10-19/tuesday-auditor-nicole-galloway-makes-her-case-to-be-governor

  6. https://er.ncsbe.gov/?election_dt=11/08/2016&county_id=0&office=COS&contest=0

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