The Congresswoman Trump Calls “Wacky Jacky” Could Tip the Senate Blue

An unprecedented number of women are chasing political office in the 2018 midterm elections. This month, we're profiling several worthy candidates who are seeking to effect change.

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Jacky Rosen, the Democratic Congresswoman hoping to become Nevada’s next senator, has won endorsements from Barack Obama and Joe Biden, but she’s received a different sort of shout-out from President Trump, who nicknamed her “Wacky Jacky” in a now-viral speech.

Rosen, 61, wears the insult as a badge of honor. “It surely means that I’m on the president and Dean Heller’s radar,” she says of her Republican opponent. “They have a lot to be worried about because I’ll tell you this: Dean Heller will never outwork me and my team. We are determined to win this race, and I will not rest until the polls are closed. If you want to call that wacky, he can go right ahead!”

Rosen’s is considered one of the most competitive races in the Senate and, if she manages to unseat Heller, a key foothold for Democrats in their effort to tip the upper house blue.

“I’m pleased to have friends,” Rosen says of her work with representatives on both sides of the aisle. She’s partnered with Senator Elizabeth Warren to sponsor the Sunlight in the Workplace bill, which requires publicly traded companies to report sexual harassment, forcing them to get onboard with the #MeToo movement. A former computer programmer, she’s worked on bipartisan legislation promoting STEM education. And there’s one issue her constituents always come back to, Rosen says: “Anxiety over the healthcare system. ‘Will I be denied?’ ‘Can I afford it?’ This uncertainty is creating such anxiety for people,” she says. If she’s elected in November, “Number-one is healthcare.”

Winding Path: The Congresswoman’s record speaks for itself, but when she was approached by the Democratic leadership to run several years ago, Rosen — then the president of a Reform Jewish synagogue and a retired computer programmer — was an unlikely pick. “Women don't often take a straight path in their careers. I certainly didn't, and I think that the diversity of my life experience helps me fight for Nevada families in ways that my Republican counterpart does not,” she says. “I'm the granddaughter of immigrants; I put myself through college as a waitress; I'm a woman in technology; I raised my family; I've lived in Las Vegas nearly 40 years and stepped up as a leader in my community. ”

Why She’s Running: “I'm really concerned about the direction of our country right now, so I felt compelled to step up and jump into this race,” Rosen says. “My faith-based tradition teaches me to leave the world a better place than how you found it. In so many ways, the dignity and decency of who we are is really at stake.”

Out to Win: “There isn't a path to taking back the Senate that doesn't run through Nevada,” Rosen says. Because her opponent occupies the only GOP-held Senate seat in a state that voted for Hillary Clinton, it’s considered particularly vulnerable — and could be a huge win for Democrats. Is she feeling the pressure? Big time. “But I'm just keeping my head down and focusing on my state, on listening to families here and holding senator Heller accountable for broken promises he's made,” she says. “That's how we're going to win this race.”

Prioritizing Health: When Rosen’s parents and in-laws fell ill, she took a step back from her career to care for them full-time. “My mother passed away from terminal cancer. I learned a lot about what they call palliative care and how it really is a very tough time in people's lives,” she says. That informed her legislative priorities in Congress, where she’s introduced a bill to cap prescription drug prices and started a palliative care task force. “It should help a lot of people living with chronic disease or terminal illnesses. You can take your own experiences and listen to others in your community, and support good legislation for that.”

Out of Whack: When Rosen first heard Trump call her Wacky Jacky, “I laughed,” she says. “I think that it's ridiculous and beneath the dignity of our president to call people names. We can disagree on the issues, but it doesn't mean you have to be disrespectful.” That said, she’s ready to spar if he is. “If Dean Heller or the president want to talk to me about the issues, great.”

Badass Ambitions: “I feel badass because I'm not afraid to stand up, speak out, and be proud of what I'm doing,” says Rosen. “I'm proud of the body of work that I have done in the House of Representatives. I'm proud that I have the ability to be a role model for my daughter and for young women across this country — to not be afraid to be bold and try something. Just because it's hard doesn't mean it's not worth doing.”

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