Jacky Rosen


Democrat • Candidate for Senate from Nevada

A Savvy Run for the Senate

A May profile in Politico entitled “The ex-synagogue president who could decide Senate control” has a lot to say about Nevada Congresswoman Jacky Rosen, positing her senatorial bid as the linchpin for a so-called “Blue Wave” this fall. “Democrats are banking on political rookie” Rosen to “deliver,” the article says, emphasizing the importance of Rosen’s race to the national forecast—and the fact that she really could win.

Nevada’s incumbent senator, Dean Heller, Rosen’s opponent, is a Republican who got caught up in the political firestorm around Obamacare repeal in summer 2017. This gave—and gives— Rosen, 60, an opening, and she’s eager to pounce. “Nevada’s working families can’t afford these premium hikes and they’re ready to elect a new senator who will keep their promise to protect their health care instead of caving to political pressure from Mitch McConnell,” a spokesperson said in March.

Much has been made of Rosen’s Jewish community involvement—with backers jokingly implying that the experience it takes to wrangle the different factions of a large congregation are excellent preparation for contending with a polarized Washington. “The minute I found out she was a synagogue president, I knew she could do anything,” Rep. Lois Frankel (D-Fla.), who recruited Rosen for her House seat, told Politico. “There’s nothing like the politics of a synagogue.”

But Rosen’s career goes far beyond the synagogue, and makes a great story: while she was in college she worked a summer job as a waitress at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Her career in the tech world was able to advance, she told a reporter, because she took unwanted jobs and patiently mastered them. I spoke to Rosen last year for Kveller, and she told me about how her time both as a working mother and a synagogue president prepared her to embrace a life where a day’s work is simply never “done.”

“I don’t know if it’s being a mom or my past being a synagogue president, but it’s true: my mother-in-law used to say, ‘You’re gonna die with laundry in the basket’,” Rosen told me. “There’s always more to do. You have to do your best in the moment, and accept that the laundry’s still going to pile up, regardless of how fast you go.”

Political prognosticators note that Rosen’s non-traditional background can both hurt her and help her—she lacks both name recognition and baggage. But to Rosen, many women have precisely what it takes to be leaders even if the path they’ve taken includes detours and timeouts for the work of caretaking and communal responsibility. And that’s a good thing.“[Women] need to realize that we are the culmination of all those things: everything we learned being a mom, wife, daughter, partner, an employee. All that makes us uniquely qualified to lead.”

by Sarah Seltzer