While Massachusetts has a solid record on women's rights it has historically been resistant to women running for national office -- in dramatic contrast to neighboring New Hampshire, which has a female governor and has elected women to all four U.S. House and Senate posts. That changed Tuesday night when voters elected Democrat Elizabeth Warren as the state's first female U.S. senator on a night when female candidates made significant gains across the nation.
Eleven women won Senate seats Tuesday, five of them newcomers, to bring the total in the Senate to a record 20. A number were helped by the Republican Party's perplexing challenges to accepted women's rights, like contraception, over the past year, as well as the decision of Republican senatorial candidates to offer their bizarre and offensive interpretations of what constitutes rape and its aftermath. In Missouri, which went for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill routed Republican foe Todd Akin, who famously declared that women could willfully avoid getting pregnant from rape.
Ms. Warren quickly emerged as a determined, issues-oriented middle-class advocate in her campaign against incumbent Republican Scott Brown, who could not escape his ties to a national Republican Party unpopular with Massachusetts voters. While she will fight for the cause of the poor and middle class in Washington, we also see her as a senator willing to cross the aisle to find compromise.
Ms. Warren chaired a bipartisan committee that monitored the successful federal bank bailout and gained national prominence by working with Democrats and Republicans on the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. She chose to run for U.S. Senate only after highly partisan Minority Leader Mitch McConnell threatened to launch a filibuster of her appointment as head of the bureau if it was not withdrawn by President Obama, which he eventually did, enabling the bureau to begin its duties.
We hope that Ms. Warren and the other women, Republican and Democratic, in the House and Senate can do what their leadership has been unable to do and find a middle ground on important issues, primarily economic. That is what Congress is supposed to do -- and has too often failed to do in recent years when politics prevented government from acting.