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The women to watch for in Tuesday’s primary battles

Alex Wong/GETTY IMAGES – Sandra Fluke, who was then a third-year law student at Georgetown University and former president of the Students for Reproductive Justice group, testifies in 2012.

If it’s Tuesday and it’s June, then it’s very likely a primary battle is going on somewhere.  And as we did in May, She The People has compiled a cheat sheet consisting of the women to look for as those primary results roll in over the next few weeks.  We’re highlighting five women who are on the ballot Tuesday in Iowa, California and South Dakota.

Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney greets supporters before speaking at a rally for Iowa Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst, left, Friday, May 30, 2014, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Joni Ernst–The magic number for everybody’s favorite Iowan Republican is 35.  If Ernst gets 35 percent of the vote, she avoids a party convention vote.  And if she comes out the winner of either the primary or party convention, she has a chance to break a glass ceiling in Iowa, a state that has never elected a woman to the U.S. House or Senate, or the governor’s mansion.   Expect this contest for the Republican Senate nod to continue to draw marquee GOP names to this oh-so-important state that is a favorite stop for presidential contenders.  Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin have already campaigned for her.  Ernst has had some of the most memorable campaign commercials this cycle, so expect more of those, too.

Sandra Fluke–Remember her?  Well, since becoming a national figure after she was disparaged by Rush Limbaugh and spoke at the DNC convention in 2012, Fluke has receded a  bit. She skipped a chance to battle it out for retiring Rep. Henry Waxman’s congressional seat, instead opting for a local office.  She is one of eight candidates vying for a state senate seat, where she said in a February interview with She The People that she feels like she can make more of a difference.  She has been an effective fundraiser and has high name ID, but the question is whether she can translate all of that into a top two finish.  And if not, what’s next for the activist turned candidate?

Wendy Greuel–The race for California’s 33rd congressional district is wide-open, with at least 16 candidates vying to replace liberal stalwart Waxman, who is retiring.  Greuel, who used to work at Dreamworks and narrowly lost a race for Los Angeles mayor last year, has the backing of EMILY’s List and is seen as a front-runner.  Candidates from all parties are competing in the primary and the top two vote-getters advance.  Another person to watch out for is Marianne Williamson, the author and Oprah bestie who is running as an independent,  campaigning on the healing and transformative power of love.  No matter what happens, her speech at the end of the night will be worth watching.

Vanila Singh–The 43 year old Stanford professor has a simple campaign strategy: Let the Democrats pound away at each other, split the vote and sneak into the November election for Califonia’s 17th Congressional district.  It’s a tall order in this heavily Democratic district represented by Rep. Michael M. Honda, who is facing patent lawyer, Ro Khanna. Singh, an anesthesiologist who says she would not have voted for the Affordable Care Act, has some high profile backers, including Rep. Pete Sessions and Rep. Eric Cantor, and one surprising supporter, Working for Us PAC, a pr0-Democratic group that is spending money on Singh, hoping that she can play primary spoiler and knock Khanna out of the race.  It’s California, where unexpected things can happen in politics, but Singh’s bid is a long-shot. Still, given that the NRCC has said she is “one to watch,” perhaps Singh has a future in the party.

Annette Bosworth–“This room is an artistic representation of the atmosphere of this election.  And if it feels oppressive or offensive and overwhelming, then the artists have done their job.  Because I ask them, go to the Internet, Google me, and pick a name.  Spell it just as it’s spelled on the Internet, and represent that on my campaign signs.” That comes from one of the most bizarre campaign press conferences this cycle, when Bosworth, running in the Republican Senate primary in South Dakota, attempted to push back on the “war on women” by pinning all of the nasty and sexist things about her on blogs, in comments sections and in other outlets on the media and on “supposedly tolerant liberals.” It’s true that women face gender based criticism. Not true that Republican women face the brunt of the sexism.  Bosworth, a physician, has been trailing badly in polls, but if her (victory or concession) speech Tuesday is anything like her 30-minute press conference that bordered on performance art, then it will be worth watching.

Nia-Malika Henderson is a political reporter for The Fix.

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