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Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Pols Take On Press

Guess Who Won?

Presidential hopeful Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York throws a softball. Photo by Jeff Malet.

Republicans and Democrats playing ball together? As unlikely as it seems these days, on June 19 the Democratic and Republican women of the House and Senate joined forces against a common foe — the press corps.

And for the fourth straight year, the reporters won, 10-3.

The most improved player award in this year’s Congressional Women’s Softball Game went to Rep. Kim Schrier, a rookie from Washington’s 8th Congressional District.

“I never played sports before and for me this was all about trying something new, team building, meeting other women from across the aisle and having fun,” says Schrier, 52, who was not a starter but got to base twice in two at bats. “We made a particular effort to not talk politics which I think was a great thing because we all saw the humanity in one another.”

While the players are competitive and train hard at 7 a.m. practices, both teams appreciate that the annual softball contest is about more than the score. This year’s game raised $365,000 for the Young Survival Coalition. That brings to $1.6 million the total amount raised since the first game in 2009 to benefit young adults under 40 who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

As I wrote in an earlier post, the game also raises the prospect of greater collaboration between the Republican and Democratic women who practiced and played together for a good cause.

“When you find common ground on that social level, the family level, the just being human and having your shoes feel too tight or being worried about how you look in shorts, that really unified us all and we had a great team spirit,” says Schrier. “We put differences aside, and I think that will help us work together and find common ground on legislation in the future.”

I caught up with Schrier by phone two days after the game as she prepared to leave DC and return home to Sammamish where her husband, David, and son, Sam, had coached her on basic softball skills. She sounded optimistic about more future collaboration with the women she got to know on the team.

“It will definitely be easier to reach out because we’ve all become friends, and frankly I hope I can do this for many years to come, hoping I can reelected to do this, and these friendships will only become deeper, and that includes women in the House but also in the Senate, and we need partners in the Senate. It establishes a trust and good will and that nobody is trying to trick you or trap you into a bill that will take you in a wrong direction.”

In addition to the bipartisan team roster, leaders from both sides of the aisle came out to cheer on the sidelines including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise. While one presidential hopeful, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, pitched, another, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, joined NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell and CNN’s Gloria Borger for the play-by-play commentary. Highlights of the action were captured by Roll Call.

Most Improved Player Rep. Kim Schrier, D-Washington. Photo by Jeff Malet.
Linda Kramer Jenning
Linda Kramer Jenning is an independent journalist who moved to Bainbridge Island after several decades reporting from Washington, D.C. She taught journalism at Georgetown University and is former Washington editor of Glamour.

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