The 2020 election was a major win for conservative women in the House of Representatives. Come January, more women will have seats in Congress than ever before in the history of the nation.
Jessica Anderson, executive director of Heritage Action for America, the grassroots partner organization of The Heritage Foundation, joins “Problematic Women” to discuss the 13 newly elected Republican female representatives and how their leadership will affect America. Anderson also breaks down what might happen next in the presidential election as claims of voter fraud and litigation both continue.
We also chat with the editor-in-chief of The Daily Signal, Kate Trinko, about what she saw on her trip to Philadelphia last weekend as voters reacted to the election news.
And, as always, we’ll crown our Problematic Woman of the Week.
Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript.
Lauren Evans: We are so excited to welcome back Jessica Anderson, executive director of Heritage Action for America, to “Problematic Women.” Jessica, it’s so great to have you on the show.
Jessica Anderson: Thank you for having me. It’s great to be here today.
Evans: Today, we are breaking down the election and why the 2020 election was a big win for conservative women in the House.
I want to begin by just chatting a little bit about the ways Heritage Action supported strong conservative candidates throughout the election. So, what was your mission as an organization going into the election?
Anderson: So, going into the election, Heritage Action really wanted to tell the story of all of the policy issues that were at stake this election. It wasn’t just candidates on the ballot.
It really was and is two different choices for the future of America and really two different choices on who you trust most when you look at things like health care, economic recovery, to holding China accountable, providing safety and security in your neighborhoods.
So, all of these issues matter. We know that they matter to voters, and so, Heritage Action sought to make those issues really permeate in a district at the local level so that voters saw past just the “red team, blue team” on the ticket and really voted on their policy issues.
Virginia Allen: So, Penny Nance, she’s the president of Concerned Women for America, she wrote in a recent Fox News op-ed that the only wave in 2020 was the election of conservative women to the U.S. House of Representatives, the 11 conservative women running for reelection won, and then at least another 13 conservative women were newly elected, which really doubles the number of conservative women in Congress.
That’s huge, so exciting. Why do you think that we saw such a significant number of conservative women elected?
Anderson: Well, I think 2020 is the year of the woman, but for real this time.
Allen: Yes, I love that.
Anderson: … And I think the story has to go back to Justice Amy Coney Barrett as the first-ever female originalist now to sit on the Supreme Court.
She really embodied, and I think paved the way for, these strong, smart women who care about their country and their families to succeed and following her or the 11 incumbent GOP House women that kept their seats and then now 13 new women that were successful at the ballot box.
And I think that they were successful because they made their election about policy. They made their election about here’s who’s going to Washington to get the job done for you, not for a special interest, not for business as usual, but to advance commonsense kitchen-table issues amidst a very chaotic and crazy Washington.
And the larger story of all of this that I think is super-interesting right now is that these women really represent, I think, a complete new shift and rebirth, if you will, of feminism, that it’s no longer about choosing between a career and family or between empowerment or conservatism, between freedom or servitude.
It really is an opportunity that you can choose to do both, and you can do it in a way that protects your family, strengthens your family with a partner, and still have a fulfilling and lasting professional career. And I, for one, am just thrilled that we have shattered kind of all of the norms around feminism that’s only celebrated one type of woman, the liberal, pro-choice woman.
We’ve basically turned that on its head, and we’re celebrating Justice Barrett just as much as I’m celebrating these new 13 conservative women that have just been elected to the House.
Evans: Jess, I couldn’t agree more, and I love that you brought up Judge Barrett, because it’s like a one-two punch. You’ve got to get so hyped thinking about all these wonderful women now being part of the United States government.
I want to pivot a little bit and talk about one of the great programs you have over at Heritage Action, which is your Sentinel Program. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
Anderson: So, Heritage Action Sentinels are basically the front line for freedom in congressional districts across the country. They know the issues. They lead in their communities. They’re grassroots all-stars. They’ve got relationships with their members of Congress. And in the case of 13 very brave individuals, Sentinels actually ran for elected office this cycle. And so we had Sentinels that won positions from a soil and water conservation job in Florida, two county commissioners, multiple state representatives and state senators, and then now the incoming congresswoman from New Mexico 2nd District, Yvette Herrell, who has been a Sentinel with us for over five years, and we’re so excited to welcome her here to Washington to serve in the U.S. Congress.
Allen: I am so excited that she was elected. Actually, we’re hoping to interview her on “The Daily Signal Podcast” sometime soon. She is just fantastic. Could you just take a minute to tell us a little bit more about Herrell, and who she is, and what her vision is, coming into Congress?
Anderson: Well, she is fantastic. I hope you can spend some time with her later. She fought an incredibly hard race in New Mexico’s 2nd District, and she’s really unique.
She’s a member of the Cherokee Nation, for real. She will be the first Native American Republican woman to serve in the U.S. Congress. But even more than any of that, she’s an entrepreneur, she’s a strong and fierce defender of the Second Amendment, she’s unabashedly pro-life, and she is going to be a leader amongst many women coming in for conservative issues here in Washington.
She knows what it takes to stand up for conservative policy, and I’m so excited to work with her in her professional capacity now as she hopes to represent New Mexico, too. It’s been a long time coming, and we’re really proud of her.
Allen: Among other congresswomen who have been elected, newly elected, are there others that you think, gosh, you really, as a conservative woman, you have to keep your eye on these new representatives? Who should we be watching out for?
Anderson: Oh, for sure. So, there’s actually a long list. Marjorie Greene is the next congressman from Georgia’s 14th District. She’s a mom. I think she has three kids. She’s a business owner. She’s super-strong on border security, fierce advocate for Second Amendment rights. I’m looking forward to seeing what she does.
Mary Miller out of [Illinois’ 15th District], she’s the mother of seven, grandmother of 17 grandchildren. She teaches Sunday school. She’s run her family farm for the last 40 years. I mean, just a testament of someone that chose to pursue a career and to have a loving family.
And then, let’s not overlook Senator-elect [Cynthia] Lummis [of Wyoming] on the Senate side. This is a woman that is well-known. She previously served in the House.
She was a founding member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus at the time. But she also is a mother, a grandmother. She’s a cattle rancher, and she’s now going to be Wyoming’s senator. So we’re super-excited for her and eager to see her joining the ranks of Senator Joni Ernst [R-Iowa] and Marsha Blackburn [R-Tenn.] and Kelly Loeffler [R-Ga.], all strong women that have come into the Senate to lead for conservative issues on everything from life issues to really interesting things in finance and [agriculture] and certainly in the efforts of health care.
So, I’m looking forward to working with her as well.
Evans: I know I’m such a nerd. I love the House Freedom Caucus, and I just can’t wait for the day where we do conversations with conservatives at The Daily Signal and with The Heritage Foundation.
And that’s where the House Freedom Caucus comes and do a press conference, and I just can’t wait for the day I show up and it’s half women, half men, and women are represented there. It’s just going to be such a … I don’t know, a “proud lady moment” for me.
Anderson: A proud … lady moment. I mean, that’s an awesome way to think about it, right? Conservative women are resolute, and it seems like we’ve finally come to the other side of the very harsh and extreme feminist movement of the last 30 years, and we’re ready to reclaim the original type of feminism that started in Seneca Falls [in New York] and take it back for conservative women and be what it’s really supposed to be about, which is providing opportunity and advancement for all women, not just a specific type of women.
And I think that’s why so many people are so excited about Justice Barrett, about these 13 new House members, about Senator Lummis. I mean, these are a lot of reasons to be proud of the movement right now.
Evans: And that’s such a great segue to my next question, which is, how do you think this will affect the pro-life movement and pro-life legislation on Capitol Hill?
Anderson: Well, I think it’s certainly going to help. I think that first and foremost women have more issues than just life issues that we care about. Life is a huge issue, and women in particular have such a strength to talk about it, to talk about the unique role of being a mom, of delivering a child, and protecting life at its most early phase in the womb.
So, I think when you have women talking about this issue, it really attacks the left that tries to say, “No women should have their abortion and put aside their family to pursue their career.” We’re going to be able to talk directly about that and kind of push that in the corner, which I think is going to be really strong.
But even more so than that, I think not only would the women coming in, but this wave of pro-life members writ large, I think is more so evidence of just pushing back against the extremism of the liberal left right now in their complete celebration of abortion, shouting their abortion, being comfortable with things like infanticide.
I mean, [Democrats are] no longer the party of [abortion being] “rare and safe.” This is the party of extreme and celebratory. So, having pro-life members supporting the Hyde Amendment, trying to get Planned Parenthood funding out of the federal government, out of taxpayers’ pockets, and really limiting all of that and working back at the state level, I think, is significant.
It’s certainly a moment in this country where things are changing, and I’m excited for this new wave of women to come in and speak authoritatively on this issue.
Allen: So, Jessica, let’s talk just for a moment kind of “big picture” presidential election. We’re still watching this election unfold and that there are a number of lawsuits, which both the Trump campaign and the Republican Party have filed in an effort to make sure that there was no voter fraud. So, can you just explain what exactly is happening with these lawsuits right now?
Anderson: Absolutely. So, right now we are in a situation where not every state has officially certified the election. Yes, you have the major media networks that have come in and called the election, but that’s not really their role.
It really is the role of the states to certify it, and we are still waiting on that to come through, but we’re also waiting on the recount in a state like Georgia.
So, there’s going to be a lot of balls up in the air for the litigation and recount efforts, and it’s important to be patient. It’s important to recognize as [former Vice President Joe Biden] has said that democracy takes time, and time is what we need right now to make sure.
So, when you look at the litigation that’s going on, what’s trying to be done is an assessment of whether or not legal votes were counted.
So, you look at a state like Pennsylvania that has had on record fraud where absentee ballots don’t have dual signatures, where they were sent in and postmarked after the date.
Those are the types of ballots that should be thrown out and not counted. Unfortunately, it looks like that they were counted, and so what litigation will do is, it’ll reach back in at the most local level to the state board of elections and basically go through and certify whether or not the votes were legal or not.
So, that takes time, and it also takes people to be in the room helping count these ballots and ensure the sanctity of our election. So, I think we all need to just be really patient to see this process unfold.
If we rewind back to 2000 with Bush v. Gore, it took 36 days for the country to basically be on pins and needles and wait for Florida to be officially called.
If you remember then, Vice President [Al] Gore thought he had won, started resuming activities as if he had won, but he was never president. Right?
So, I think we need to let the legal system run its course and recognize that there is fraud that exists, and whether or not it’s enough to flip the election or not, we don’t know, and that’s the point of the litigation.
So, that’s where we are. Unfortunately, I think it means we’re going to have to be patient a little bit longer, but in the meantime, all eyes are definitely turning to Georgia.
We recognize that, regardless of what happens with the presidential, that the two Senate races in Georgia are paramount to the future of the Senate, and in many ways the future of our republic, because of everything that the Senate will be responsible for, going forward the next two to four years.
Evans: Jess, it’s certainly a rush to get these election results. The Electoral College doesn’t meet until December, correct?
Anderson: Right, the Electoral College meets in December, and they would certify the official votes the first week of January. And so, there is a little bit of a rush when you look at how much time between now and then, and how much time it takes to go county to county.
But in terms of the major media networks jumping the gun before these states were able to finish counting and get their results out, I think that they were premature, and they need to slow down, and we need to wait, and we have a legal system in place for a reason, and that is what needs to run its course right now.
Allen: What happens if voter fraud does go unchecked? What does that ultimately mean for the future of our democracy?
Anderson: Well, let’s hope that never happens, right? We know that voter fraud exists. We know that there are manipulations at the local level, and then there’s simple slip-ups like people forgetting to do a double signature or having the witness signature, or they postmark their absentee at a later date, or in a state like Nevada where you had a state send out mail-in ballots to every single voter without even their requests.
So, some of this stuff is going to have to be fixed at the state level, and I think that you see a model of state legislation of changes that were made to a state like Florida after the 2000 election that can really be a model for other states in the country that need to tighten up on some of their voter laws.
You also look at states that continue to have same-day registration, no voter ID, and of course there’s going to be fraud because there’s no safeguards in place to safeguard against it.
So, ultimately, if this fraud is allowed to run unchecked for years and years and years to come, I think that just deteriorates our trust in the electoral system. It deteriorates our trust in the election process itself, but that’s why we’re working so hard to make sure that this election is not built on the backs of fraud, but that it is actually fair and reflective of what voters want. And that’s ultimately what we want, right?
At the end of the day, we want to have confidence that whoever is representing us, whether in the House, in the Senate, or as president, that they’ve got there legally, they got there legally—not through fraud and voter manipulation.
Evans: Well, and then on the left, the goal post keeps shifting. Before the election, it was, “Voter fraud doesn’t happen. It’s just voter suppression.” And now that Biden is up in some states, it’s now, “Oh, OK, voter fraud happens, but it’s not enough to sway the election,” and they’ll never talk about voter suppression again.
Anderson: Yeah. The hypocrisy of the left the last 10 days, if I could count the list of things, I mean, we need a whole other show for that guy. It has just been wild.
I mean, one, go back to this issue of feminism that we started talking about. I mean, you would have thought that [Sen.] Kamala Harris [of California] is the end-all, be-all for everything women. I mean, look no further on this hypocrisy than the just the complete contrast between the praise for her versus the response from the media to Justice Barrett.
One is completely lauded for shattering the glass ceiling and every little girl’s dream has come true, and the other is smeared and made to be a character. On Kamala Harris, I’ve seen so many posts of, “Well, regardless of what you believe, just be glad that a woman is there, ” and it’s like two things.
One, if everyone on the left really believes so much in women and race, why is it that Kamala Harris only got 1% in the primary? She wasn’t able to be at the top of the ticket. She wasn’t elected at the top of the ticket, she was appointed as the running mate to Joe Biden.
So, let’s just be clear about how much people actually wanted to elevate her versus Joe Biden. So that’s one. But then, two, I mean, at the end of the day, I’m not sure that I’m in a place to celebrate someone that I completely disagree with their views and beliefs on everything from life to economic issues.
I mean, at a certain point, we have to celebrate the people that most align with what we believe in.
Yes, we should be respectful. Yes, we should find places to work together, but going out of our way to celebrate anyone that we are fundamentally opposed to with our belief system I think is a step too far. And at the end of the day, we probably should recognize that as a society, that people really just cheer for the people they agree with.
Allen: Yeah. Well said. Yeah, I think there’s such a need to get back to a concrete focus on the policy issues and actually looking at where do these individuals stand on the issues that I care about, on the issues that are going to affect generations to come.
It’s really critical. We have to do our homework on that.
Allen: Jessica, we could keep going and going on this. We’re going to let you go. Thank you so much for joining this show. It’s been great to chat about both the successes that we’ve seen and some of just the exciting news that you’re seeing during this election, and then also just this ongoing process as we’re continuing to watch things litigated and this whole process unfold.
Anderson: Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me, and I would say, “Go, women! Go, women!”