A woman who has accused President Trump of forcibly kissing her in Trump Tower in 2005 has declared her candidacy for a state legislature seat in Ohio.
The woman, Rachel Crooks, first spoke publicly about the alleged incident in October 2016, and in the months since, she has been inspired to mount her first run for office. Cosmopolitan first reported that Crooks was running for office Monday.
“I think my voice should have been heard then,” Crooks told Cosmo, referencing her choice to accuse Trump of sexual misconduct during the 2016 election, “and I’ll still fight for it to be heard now. Americans are really upset with politics as usual, and I want to be a voice for them.”
Crooks told the magazine that she’s upset that Trump hasn’t been held accountable for his alleged sexual misconduct and abuse and that her run for office is a way of taking direct action, saying, “I think there will be a lot of people who see value in [my campaign] … But I hope more so because I’m a viable candidate rather than a participant in the #MeToo movement.”
Crooks plans to focus on job creation, access to affordable health care, and education. One big issue, she said, is the fact that charter schools in Ohio are given about $1 billion a year with little accountability. Crooks aims to redirect that money into the state’s public schools.
Crooks already has the backing of the Ohio State Democratic Party, according to Cosmo, and, if she wins the Democratic primary in May, she’ll face two-term incumbent Republican Rep. Bill Reineke. The district, located outside of Toledo, voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012, but flipped for Trump in 2016. But Crooks said she’s hopeful about her prospects.
“Democrats are here. But it almost felt like we didn’t know that we were out there,” Crooks said. “I think there’s this momentum now that Trump has been elected, that we know there are more of us out there, and we’re more active in politics.”
Crooks said she knows people will criticize her decision to run for office, say she’s just trying to cash out on her 15 minutes of fame, but she said she’s prepared.
“I think I’ve read and seen about as negative of things as I can about myself,” Crooks said, referring to criticism when she came forward during the election. But, she said, “Women are uniting. The momentum is now. I want to be part of it.”
Crooks is certainly right about that momentum: She is joining a record number of women running for office in 2018.
On the national level, 390 women are planning to run for the House of Representatives, including 22 non-incumbent black women. (There are currently only 18 back women in the House.) 49 women plan to run for Senate seats, a figure 68 percent higher than the number who had announced in January of 2014. A record number of women are running for governor, as well.
Many of them, like Crooks, were inspired to run by the #MeToo movement. Last month, a woman named Yolanda Anguiano, who accused a California state assemblyman of harassment, filed papers to run for his seat.
Like Crooks, Anguiano said she knows people will criticize the decision to run.
“People are going to say what they want,” Anguiano told The Los Angeles Times.
But it doesn’t matter, at least according to Crooks, who said she “didn’t necessarily see [herself]” as someone who could run for office.
“We’ve been historically underrepresented in politics,” Crooks said Monday, but, she added, “Once you hear it a few times, you start to believe it a little bit, and fully consider it. Once I sat down and mulled it over, I felt like it really was a duty that I had, that I should take on this responsibility firsthand and try to make a difference for other people.”
At least 14 women have accused Trump of sexual misconduct. The White House denies all allegations.