Stephanie Schriock

Address at the 2019 We Are EMILY Gala - April 4, 2019

Stephanie Schriock
April 04, 2019— Washington, D.C.
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Oh my gosh – thank you so much. I think you can put the Kleenex away for a little bit, but I make no promises.

Okay, doesn't it just feel great to be celebrating? Just a little bit? Cuz I know, I know how we felt. I mean, let's face it – we have seen the worst happen. Well, we just won, so let's embrace this moment. Let's celebrate this!

Now, EMILY's List asked a lot of you in 2018 and you delivered. We targeted 1600 state and local races, we flipped seven state legislative chambers, we tripled the number of pro-choice Democratic women governors, we trained thousands of women across 25 states to run for office now and in the future, and we won both Democratic Senate pickups with Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Jackie Rosen of Nevada.

Oh yeah, there's that one other thing, that one other sort of big thing. We promised that we'd win the 23 House seats Democrats needed to take the majority back, but instead of doing that EMILY's List flipped 24 Republican seats.

We did that together. And there are now more women serving in Congress than ever before and Congress is more diverse than ever before. And so it's Democratic women are creating new policy and chairing committees.

And I don't know about you, but I will never forget the feeling I had seeing all those women in the House dressed in white the night of the State of the Union. I will not ever forget seeing Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids sworn in together as the first Native American women ever in Congress. Or seeing Abby Finkenauer become the first new member of Congress and the youngest woman ever to pass a bill.

We are in a new era now, but let's not forget – we are standing on the shoulders of women who came before us, women like our founder Ellen Malcolm, women like Shirley Chisholm and Hillary Clinton. And yes, Madam Speaker. The rest of the world is finally catching up to what we've always known, because we know Speaker Nancy Pelosi is the ultimate badass.

So this progress didn't come out of nowhere. And in 2018 we started with the women who reached out to us wanting help running for office starting the day after the election in 2016. And by the way, we're now up to 46,000 women and counting who have signed up for help.

Now, we built out our offices, we expanded our staff, we held trainings all across the country in places like Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio. And we raised and we spent a record $110 million.

We targeted districts and went deep, deep into some conservative areas. Now we helped our women candidates find the best staff, develop smart strategy and build really strong campaigns focused on issues like health care that played a central role in this election.

And we also made sure that our candidates knew that they didn't have to make a choice between persuading independent voters and turning out the base. We did both. And as a result, as a result, 54% of voters in our battleground races were women. Just in case you're doing the math on that, that means just 46% were men.

Women voters delivered this majority and we will do it again in 2020.

This is how Democrats win and we are under no illusion here. Wins like these don't just happen and candidates matter. In 2018 there were no cookie-cutter campaigns. Our candidates didn't all have typical political resumés, but they were all risk takers because they knew their districts and knew how to reach voters their way – by being authentic, telling their stories and not backing down.

They were pro-choice Democratic women in ruby-red districts, women who had never thought about running for office before, and women who had served in state and local office for years. And the first-time candidates – helicopter pilots, doctors, mixed martial arts fighters, and nurses, veterans, and union workers, small business owners and public schoolteachers. And when they stepped up to run, they did the impossible.

And Democrats – we didn't even think about Illinois's 14th congressional district until Lauren Underwood showed us we better. Lauren is a registered nurse and a young woman of color and an American with a pre-existing condition who also happens to be an expert on the Affordable Care Act. She had her own story that no one else could share in that race.

Now, so did Xochitl Torres Small, who flipped New Mexico's 2nd congressional district. Now Xochitl was campaigning on land her grandmother worked as a Mexican immigrant, which happens to be the same land that Donald Trump now wants to take for his wall. So the voters in New Mexico, too – they know they can trust her because their story is her story.

See, that's how EMILY's List women won where Democrats usually don't. But make no mistake – running for office is still not easy for women to do. They still get asked, "Who's going to take care of your kids if you win?" Or on the other hand, "Why don't you have any kids?" And my personal favorite, "Do you plan to run as a woman?"

They still, they still get told they're not likeable enough or that they're shrill or not electable or in a particularly interesting headline just last month, that they're connecting with voters too much. And then there are the comments on their appearance. They deal with all of that on top of the challenges of things like voter suppression and gerrymandered districts and the constant assaults on our rights and our democracy, courtesy of a morally bankrupt Republican Party.

So know this – the work we do matters now more than ever. And supporting women like Stacey Abrams and what she is doing with Fair Fight in Georgia is critical to this nation.

And electing women with diverse voices and the vision and values to lead is a life-and-death decision now for our democracy.

So in 2020, we've just got to do it again. We've got to elect more women and we have got to win by a massive margin because we have got to take the Senate majority back. We've got to hold the House, sweep the statehouses and deliver a total crushing defeat of Donald Trump.

And when we do, and when we do, not only will we have a president who has what it takes to unite and lead, but we will have a Congress that looks like America and represents all of us. We will be stronger than we've ever been, and I got to tell you I just can't wait.

Thank you so much, and let's keep the momentum going. Thank you.

EMILY's List. (2019, April 18). Stephanie Schriock gives the Keynote Address at the 2019 We Are EMILY Gala [Video]. YouTube.