Rosemary Becchi is exactly who the Republican Party says it’s looking for.
Becchi (pronounced “Becky”) is running for one of the House seats Democrats snapped up in the blue wave of 2018 and that Republicans are eager to snatch back in 2020. She is a white-collar professional and a mother of three in a wealthy, white suburb where a lot of swing voters share her same background — the kind of woman Republicans say they are desperate to recruit, to speak to the voters they are desperate to win back.
But when Becchi met with a party official at National Republican Congressional Committee headquarters in Washington, he asked her not to run.
NRCC officials already preferred another Republican in her New Jersey district, he said: Tom Kean Jr., the son of that state’s popular former governor from the ’80s.
“One of the first things they said to me was, ‘Why don’t you run in a different district?’” Becchi fumed in a recent interview. “Well, guess what? I don’t live in another district.”
This is a time when the GOP supposedly wants more Becchis. In 2018, the forces that made the midterms the Year of the Woman for the Democrats spelled total catastrophe for Republicans. White, suburban women with college degrees fled the party in droves. The bloodletting left only 13 Republican women in the House, a number so low that Mitch McConnell (R), the Senate majority leader and no one’s idea of an equality champion, promised to do “a better job of recruiting women candidates and getting them elected.”
There’s no shortage of theories about what has to change and of big money in search of solutions. This cycle, the party is reportedly on track to recruit more women than ever to run for office, and a few donors have poured millions into a new super PAC, Winning for Women, which hopes to ferry those recruits through the primaries.
Becchi’s clash with the party, though, cuts to a more elemental problem: If Republicans want to elect more women, they’ll have to elect fewer men.
“To actually make a difference,” said Cam Savage, one of a handful of Republican strategists trying seriously to elect more women, “people are going to have to go out and steal some seats.”