Women key to blue wave victory in New Jersey
Women-led grassroots groups mobilized a resistance movement that proved critical in flipping the US House of Representatives.
Trenton — Women leaders and advocates from all over New Jersey gathered today to highlight the critical role women and grassroots groups played in the blue wave mid-term election that saw Democrats gain at least three and very likely four New Jersey congressional seats, re-elect Senator Bob Menendez and flip the US House of Representatives to Democratic control. Women helped drive unprecedented turnout to the polls while seeing historic gains in elected office; Democratic Congresswoman-elect Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11th) will join Democratic Congresswoman Bonnie Watson-Coleman (NJ-12th) as part of a record-breaking number of women elected to the House.
“An amazing thing happened in New Jersey,” said Margaret Illis, leader and co-founder of NJ 7 Forward, one of the grassroots groups that helped Democrat Congressman-elect Tom Malinowski defeat Republican Congressman Leonard Lance (NJ-7th) “Ordinary people said we can be the change. Women said we don’t have to settle. We said we deserved better, and we reached for it. So we flipped the House! We unseated our congressman Leonard Lance, who pretended to be a moderate but sided with the Trump administration more often than not. We fueled a movement and we won!”
Over the past two years, the Trump administration has advanced policies that are extremely harmful to women, their families and their communities. The blue wave in the mid-term elections was powered by women determined to stand up to the GOP’s racist, sexist, destructive and divisive agenda.
“In the days following the November 2016 elections, women reached out to each other for solidarity and for strength,” said Saily Avelenda, Executive Director of NJ 11th For Change, which helped propel Congresswoman-elect Sherrill to victory. “We took all of our anger and used it as fuel to launch targeted strategies for bringing change to New Jersey. As we saw on Tuesday, those plans delivered big wins up and down the state. But the victories we celebrate today are not ours alone. We owe a debt of gratitude to the women who have been resisting since well before 2016 — women of color, immigration activists, labor leaders, and so many others who cleared the path that we walk on today. We share these victories with them.”
“After two years of attacks on reproductive health care by leaders in Washington, women have had enough – and voted to show it,” said Casey Olesko, Communications Director with Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey. “Winning candidates like Mikie Sherrill and Bonnie Watson Coleman put reproductive rights in the center of their campaign, promising to protect access to care – and voters heard them loud and clear.”
Women-led groups have been at the forefront of the Trump resistance in New Jersey for nearly two years. New Jersey Citizen Action spearheaded the fight against the Affordable Care Act repeal and the GOP tax plans targeting all New Jersey’s Republic Congressmen statewide, mobilizing thousands of women and other resisters to join Women’s Marches, held weekly protests outside every Republican Congressmen’s offices for more than 70 consecutive weeks, organized media events, and coordinated constituent visits to Congressmen to defend the ACA and fight against the GOP tax plan. Leading up to the mid-term elections, NJCA partnered with NJ 7 Forward and other grassroots groups in the When Women Vote We Win voter outreach campaign in which women volunteers in Congressional District 7 mobilized tens of thousands of women voters to vote out Leonard Lance and elect Tom Malinowski. Statewide leading up to the midterms NJCA made contact with 100,000 voters through door-knocking, texts, postcards, and phone calls. These voters made a critical difference in Tuesday’s mid-terms and were reached because of women’s determination to push back against the Trump administration and the GOP.
“Women marched in the cold rain and the blazing sun, they knocked on thousands of doors and called and texted thousands more,” said Dena Mottola Jaborska, associate director of New Jersey Citizen Action. “They voted, and they inspired countless others to come vote with them. They ran for office, got elected and held GOP representatives accountable for their actions. This wave we’ve started won’t stop until we’ve taken our country back.”