We don’t yet know how the wrenching, “Rashomon”-like Senate testimony by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh will influence the looming midterm elections — in part because we don’t yet know how the forthcoming FBI investigation into Ford’s allegations will influence a handful of moderate senators, Democrat and Republican, whose votes early next month will determine whether Kavanaugh ultimately ascends to the highest court in the land.
But we might start to pick up on the earliest ripple effects if we pay close attention to the races where #MeToo candidates are themselves running for office.
Katie Hill is one such candidate. Hill is 31 years old. She is bisexual. She and her husband live on a small ranch in Agua Dulce, Calif., where they raise goats. Before declaring her candidacy on International Women’s Day, she was leading one of the region’s largest homeless-services providers. In May, Hill and her staff — “the most millennial campaign ever” — participated in a remarkably intimate two-part documentary on HBO’s Vice News Tonight. One of her campaign videos shows her free-climbing a hundred-foot cliff in the Angeles National Forest.
She has also been open about her own experiences with sexual trauma.
“I have experienced sexual assault multiple times, in different ways,” Hill said in another campaign video posted shortly before Kavanaugh and Ford appeared on Capitol Hill. “None of that is OK. If we let that go for someone in power, who should be held to the highest possible standard… we are showing to boys and men across the country that … it’s not that bad. And we’re never going to see change if that’s what we do.”
Hill isn’t alone. Ayanna Pressley, a progressive member of the Boston City Council who upset Democratic Rep. Michael Capuano earlier this month, put her “status as a [rape] survivor and advocate for others near the forefront of her campaign.” Katie Porter, a consumer-protection attorney who captured the Democratic nomination in California’s 45th Congressional District, centered on Irvine, revealed in May that she had escaped an abusive ex-husband. Former Miami Judge Mary Barzee Flores, a Democratic candidate running in Florida’s 25th Congressional District, outside Miami, released a campaign ad this spring in which she referred to an “assault from a boss” and experience with “handsy customers” during her time in the food service industry. Inspired by the #MeToo movement, many others — including Arizona senate candidate Martha McSally, a Republican, and Michigan gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat — have shared their stories as well.
If and when the Kavanaugh fallout starts to affect down-ballot races, we will likely see it most clearly in the contests where candidates have already made #MeToo an issue. In that regard, Hill’s insurgent campaign against two-term GOP Rep. Steve Knight, a former Los Angeles police officer, could be prove to be a particularly telling case study.