By Romy Oltuski
Oct 20, 2018 @ 8:30 pm
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/AP

Before deciding to become a lawmaker herself, Angie Craig went head-to-head with the law to become a mother. “My partner and I spent three years fighting to keep our son Josh,” says Craig, whose landmark custody case helped establish same-sex couples’ right to adopt in Tennessee, where she and her wife were living at the time.

She now lives in Minnesota, where she's the Democratic candidate to represent the state's second Congressional District in the U.S. House. Josh is now 21 and has three brothers who all think it’s pretty cool that, if elected, Craig will be the first lesbian mother in Congress.

She’s faced off against her Republican opponent, incumbent Jason Lewis, once before in 2016 and lost narrowly, but she’s ready for a rematch. “When you've faced your biggest fear — not knowing whether you're going to put your kid to bed that night because someone thinks you shouldn't be a mother — there's nothing that scares you after that,” she says.

The Issues: Raised in a mobile home by a single mom who couldn’t afford insurance, the 46-year-old former healthcare executive says lowering the cost of healthcare, especially prescription drugs, is at the very top of her agenda. But Craig believes her success will hinge on her ability to listen to other citizens’ concerns. “I think we'd be better off in this country if we did a lot more listening among our elected officials,” she says. “I'm spending more time listening to people who maybe don't agree with everything I believe because I really do need to understand where folks are coming from. I'm not running to represent Democrats in my district. I'm running to represent all families.”

Adoption Battle: “That really formulated the rest of my life and career,” she says of her experience “not knowing whether you're going to put your kid to bed that night because someone thinks maybe you shouldn't be a mother.” While she’d never want to relive that fight, it’s shaped her philosophy as a candidate and taught her dogged tenacity.

Focus on Families: “I worry about pay equity, I worry about women's reproductive rights. But at the end of the day, these aren't women's issues; these are family issues,” says Craig. She hopes to inspire not just young women but young men too. “It's almost more important for my four sons to see women in leadership because our sons need to see it as commonplace that women play an important and equal role in society.”

Women Winning: Before running herself, Craig served on the board of Women Winning, which supports pro-choice women running for public office. There, she says, “I was in the background, working to help elect women. So I had a little help from the organization to understand what it was going to be like to step off the sidelines and put my name on a ballot. I had a lot of mentorship from women who had been through the process before.”

RELATED: This Republican Candidate Could Be the First Filipina in Congress

Second Time Around: “Frankly, you don't learn anything when you win. But, when you lose, you spend a whole lot of time looking at, ‘What did I miss? What could I do different?’” says Craig of her second race against Lewis. In that sense, losing may actually give Craig a leg up, she says. “I spent a whole lot of time the first time learning how to run for Congress. This time, I'm bringing me — my experiences, what I've accomplished, what I've still got to learn.”

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