Rachel Crooks, one of the 19 women who have accused President Donald Trump of sexual misconduct, announced Monday that she is running for the Ohio state Legislature.
Crooks, a 35-year-old director of international student recruitment at Heidelberg University in Tiffin, Ohio, told Cosmopolitan magazine that she was inspired to run for office in part because she wants to be a voice for women who have suffered sexual harassment and because Trump has never been held accountable for allegedly kissing her without her consent in 2005.
When Crooks was 22 and working in Trump Tower in New York, she said she met the real estate mogul for the first time outside an elevator in his office building. He allegedly kissed her on both cheeks and then moved to her mouth. The New York Times reported her story in October 2016 along with that of another accuser, but Trump was nevertheless elected president the following month.
“I think my voice should have been heard then, and I’ll still fight for it to be heard now,” Crooks told Cosmo. “Americans are really upset with politics as usual, and I want to be a voice for them.”
Trump has denied Crooks’ allegations, as well as those of the 18 other women who have accused him of sexual assault and harassment.
Ohio’s Democratic Party is backing Crooks, who wants to expand access to affordable health care and to reform the state’s education system by moving money from charter schools to public schools.
If she wins the Democratic primary in May, she will challenge incumbent state Rep. Bill Reineke (R) in the fall. Ohio’s 88th District swung for Trump in 2016, but favored Barack Obama in the two previous presidential elections, so Crooks is hopeful she can flip it back after a year of Trump’s “erratic and ineffective” leadership.
Crooks, who said she never considered running for office before Trump’s election, told Cosmo that she has been inspired herself by the groundswell of women leading the resistance against Trump. An unprecedented number of women are running for office in 2018, motivated to challenge the president and the political system that has kept men like him in power for centuries.
“Women are uniting,” Crooks said. “The momentum is now. I want to be part of it.”