GOP Women Gain Election Ground, Still Playing Catch-Up With Dems
NPR announces that 2010 may very well be the election year of the woman. That is, if you are a female Republican.
An unprecedented number of Republican women are running for their party’s nomination in U.S. House and Senate primaries — or are already on their way to battle Democrats in the fall midterm elections. So many are campaigning that many conservative women are anticipating strong gains in their congressional numbers come November.
“This is a breakthrough moment,” says Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List, which raises money for female candidates who oppose abortion.
Fourteen Republican women are in the running for the U.S. Senate. In 2008, just three Republican women competed in the general election, according to the Center for American Women and Politics. And 94 are still vying for House seats, compared with 46 at about the same time in the primary cycle two years ago.
Also telling? Sixty of the 106 women who are challenging incumbents for House seats are Republicans — a sign, says Debbie Walsh, the center’s director, that GOP women are increasingly willing to “put their hat in the ring,” though the fall outcome remains unpredictable.
The NPR article spends a lot of time saluting Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion version of Emily’s List that promotes anti-choice women running for office. With Sarah Palin headlining fundraising events for the group, what was once a small organization centered in the founders home is now a modest endevor with a few million in donations, most of which are being dedicated in the race to unseat Harry Reid.
But Republican women have a lot of ground to make up, according to NPR. They represent less than a fourth of the female senators, and about the same amount of female Representatives, and their number has actually gone down in the last decade, unlike Democratic women, who have been making gains.
But perhaps part of the problem lies in their marketing itself. When asked why there were so few Republican women candidates,
Penny Nance, head of the Concerned Women Political Action Committee, which opposes abortion, suggest that part of the answer may be that conservative women “tend to be more traditional, and spend more time at home raising children.”
After all, it’s hard to advocate for women candidates when you’re at the same time telling them they should be home with the kids.
Meanwhile, The Susan B. Anthony List seems to be staking their entire reputation (and most of their funds) on ensuring Sue Lowden beats Harry Reid in Nevada. Yet Lowden has now gone from leading to a dead heat, according to The Hill. Should Lowden not survive the race, does the List lose its newfound political juice?
But as Jill Zimon, blogger and city council member from Ohio, mentions at Write Like She Talks, all women entering the race are good for the gender as a whole, as it encourages more women to pick up the torch and try for office, too.
I also can’t think of a better segue into the fact that that desire “for women on all points of the political spectrum” to be in elected office can be fulfilled further this summer at the half-day non-partisan workshop in New York City this summer, put on by BlogHer.com and The White House Project, that I’ll be keynoting. It is specifically geared toward all women who want to learn about running for office and what it takes, regardless of political persuasion. Hopefully, we’ll help add to the ranks too.
I mean, really – isn’t it time to change the all-male South Carolina state senate or the Ohio state senate’s GOP male-female ratio (19-2) (Dems total of 11 are split 6-5)? The SC senate doesn’t even have an election until 2012 – plenty of time! Come on, ladies. Don’t get mad – get elected.