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Female Candidates Calibrate Politics with Support for Kavanaugh Accusers

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Still, Ms. Wexton has largely held back, though in an emailed statement she called on Ms. Comstock to declare whether or not she still supports Judge Kavanaugh.

“Barbara Comstock is holding her old friend, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, to a much lower standard than the one she set for members of the opposing party,” Ms. Wexton, a state senator, said. “Given the growing number of allegations against Kavanaugh, Comstock’s silence is an unacceptable failure of leadership.”

A record number of women are running for the House this year, mostly Democrats. And a remarkable number have come forward with stories of having been sexually assaulted or harassed.

Some of those women are relating Dr. Blasey’s story to their own. Katie Porter, a Democrat running for a House seat in Southern California, had previously shared her story of physical and verbal abuse by her ex-husband. On Twitter, after Dr. Blasey came forward, she wrote: “I’ve said #MeToo, and I know how crucial it is for survivors of sexual assault and abuse to be able to tell their stories. We need a world where the people committing sexual assault/abuse are the ones scared, not the survivors.”

In a nearby district — similarly suburban and a battleground — the Republican incumbent, Representative Dana Rohrabacher, was captured on tape ridiculing Dr. Blasey’s complaints. “What do they say? ‘Well, in high school you did this,’” he said at an event for young supporters. “High school? Give me a break.” But even in conservative Tennessee, Marsha Blackburn, a hard-line Trump supporter battling for an open Senate seat, chose to calibrate her response. In a debate with her Democratic opponent, Phil Bredesen, she called the allegations against Judge Kavanaugh a Democratic “P.R. stunt’’ but also said “every woman who makes an accusation should be heard.’’

Pearl Kim, a Republican running for an open seat in the Philadelphia suburbs, said it was important to listen to Dr. Blasey’s testimony, and to be inclined to take any allegations of sexual assault seriously, even though many Republicans have complained that Dr. Blasey should not have waited 36 years to come forward. “It’s important for people to realize that a lack of a proper complaint should not be a factor in determining someone’s credibility,” she said in an interview.

Ms. Kim has said that she was inspired to become a special victims prosecutor after she was sexually assaulted in college. “The Senate is going to have to decide whether or not they find her credible, and how much are they going to factor that into their vote,” she said.


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