A political action committee run by Republican women opposed to Donald Trump is getting involved in Michigan's most competitive Congressional races — supporting the Democratic candidates.
Republican Women for Progress PAC told Salon it is spending $50,000 on digital advertisement in Michigan's 8th and 11th Congressional District races, where moderate Democrats are facing off against a Trump-aligned GOP challenger. In Michigan's 11th congressional district, Democrat Haley Stevens is facing off against Republican Lena Epstein, the former Michigan chair for the Trump campaign. In Michigan's 8th congressional district, Elissa Slotkin is challenging incumbent Rep. Mike Bishop, who received a shout out from Trump on Twitter earlier this month.
Cook Political Report rates the 8th District as a "toss-up" and the 11th District as "lean Democratic."
Meghan Milloy, co-founder of Republican Women for Congress, told Salon that the group is supporting female candidates on both sides of the political spectrum ahead of the midterm elections this November. So far, the group is supporting four female candidates and all are Democrats.
"We are keen on supporting women from both parties this cycle because we think that if more women were involved in politics and policy, especially in leadership positions within the Republican Party, Donald Trump never would have been our nominee, and certainly not our president," Milloy said. "We think that with the extreme partisanship and tribal politics these days, we need more women at the table to bring us back to civility. Women of both parties need to be elected in November to serve as a check on this administration and their, at best, indifference toward women."
Milloy's support of Democratic women is notable, given that she has formerly worked for the conservative American Action Forum think tank and has campaigned for Republicans like Trent Lott, Mitt Romney and Haley Barbour.
The digital ads are intended to target suburban women voters, a crucial swing vote. Milloy said this audience is "particularly important because it's a group, at least the suburban Republican women, that voted for Trump in large part, but now seem to regret their vote. We want to let them know that it's okay and even preferable to vote for the Democrats in their districts this time around — just as it was to vote for Hillary in 2016." In a recent poll of 69 battleground House races nationwide, Democrats had nearly a 30-point lead over Republicans with suburban women.
The PAC was kicked off after Milloy and her co-founder, Jennifer Pierotti Lim, launched Republican Women for Hillary — a volunteer group that included moderate Republican women and campaigned for Hillary Clinton in 2016 after Trump snagged the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. After the election, the duo continued to speak out against Trump and launched Republican Women for Progress.
Women involved with the organization, Milloy says, are "traditional Republicans that believe in ideals of limited government and fiscal responsibility but can't get behind the hate and irresponsibility of this Republican administration. We want a return to the big tent party where all are welcome, and even immigration policy is compassionate."
"This Republican Party is not the Republican Party that we have all known and worked in and voted for for so many years and the only way to bring it back is to make sure the current regime isn't re-elected and has as many checks on it as possible," Milloy said.
According to Politico Playbook, the PAC raised $1 million from Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn, Kathryn Murdoch, co-founder and president of Quadrivium Foundation, and Dan Tierney of KCG Holdings. Milloy told Salon that Trump's rhetoric and Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings likely contributed to the spike in donations.
"The spike is largely due to the proximity of elections. But, I think the Kavanaugh hearings and Republicans behavior there coupled with the administration's indifference to Saudi Arabia right now has made voters and donors realize how important it is to have reasonably moderate Republicans and even Democratic women in office," she said.
Democrats are hoping to try to ride the proverbial blue wave that's many anticipate pushing Congress towards a Democratic majority in November. They need to gain 23-GOP held seats to win the majority in the lower chamber. As of this writing, FiveThirtyEight predicts Democrats have a five in six chance of retaking the House this fall.