You’ve likely heard that women are running for office at a rate never seen before in our country. Both Democratic and Republican women are signing up to fight for their local and state seats and there are organizations to train and support female candidates to help them win. Two such organizations are EMILY’s List, which recruits and trains female Democratic candidates, and Maggie’s List, which promotes and trains female Republican candidates. We might have finally reached the tipping point that will seat more women in elected offices. So why now?
What’s really different from years before when women didn’t feel like they were represented or even heard when it came to issues that affect half of the population? Call it the perfect storm of electing candidates who openly disrespect and abuse women, the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the subsequent #MeToo movement and the general feeling that we can do better than the people currently serving us. During the 2016 election season, there were many reports of abuse, misconduct, and generally unacceptable behavior and language about– and toward– women, and it didn’t seem to matter. The election results felt like a giant and personal “Fuck you” to many American women. As it turns out, that is not ok with us. We’re not having it. Some women marched, some cried, some scoffed, some were annoyed but supported these candidates anyway, but one thing did change… a huge group of women decided to seek political office for the very first time.
This list of new candidates for US Congress and State Elections includes doctors, nurses, working mothers, stay-at-home moms, retirees, Democrats, Republicans, Jeopardy winners, veterans, and immigrants.
Time magazine used their newsworthy “Person of the Year” issue to highlight the women who spoke out in 2017, which gave rise to women everywhere saying “Me too” and “Enough is enough”.
Currently, women hold less than 20% of seats in Congress and 25% of state legislature seats. There are only six female governors in our fifty states, but in 2018, there are 79 women considering running for governor (this is double the previous high in 1994). So what will the flood of new women entering political races mean for these statistics? In a Time.com article, Democratic pollster Celinda Lake said “Women candidates help energize women voters. And in close races, you win with women voters.” Only time (and votes) will tell. Regardless of outcome, I sincerely hope that women will continue to encourage, empower and inspire one another to run for office.