With a record number of women now running for seats in both the U.S. House and Senate, The 2012 Project, a national, nonpartisan campaign of the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) at Rutgers University, launched “20 Percent in 2012” a new campaign with the goal of seeing 20% of our elected representatives in Congress women.
To get to 20% (a total 107 women in the House and Senate) would require a 3 percentage point jump from the current 17 percent of women elected to Congress. That would mean the largest rate of growth in electoral parity since 1992, a year known widely as the “Year of the Woman.” “It’s an ambitious goal,” said CAWP director Debbie Walsh, “but it’s within reach – so we’re putting out the word that it’s possible. The task is converting a record number of candidates into a record number of winners.”
With women still on the ballot in four states that have not yet held congressional primaries, there are already 160 women nominees for House seats. The previous record was 141 women set in 2004. “We need to accelerate the pace of progress,” said Mary Hughes, founder and director of The 2012 Project. “It’s time. Women are ready.”
To reach 20 percent women in the House, or 87 women, The 2012 Project is counting on:
• 56 women incumbents certain to win;
• 3 women incumbents likely to win;
• 10 new women candidates almost certain to win;
• and 27 incumbent women and new candidates running in competitive seats, of whom two-thirds would need to win.
The 2012 elections follow post-census redistricting when every congressional and state legislative district is redrawn and open seats are created. Women and other newcomers have more success winning open seats, and the increased voter turnout in presidential years further boosts women candidates. This year, a record 297 women filed to run for US House seats, shattering the previous record of 262 women set in 2010.
Gender parity in Congress certainly doesn’t mean we’ll suddenly see an end to the ridiculous and misogynistic focus of the right. After all, for every Nancy Pelosi there’s a Virginia Foxx. But it can’t make things any worse, can it?
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