As a variety of political groups struggle to get more women running for and into political office, the attempt to grow the ranks of women in politics is hitting a pretty deliberate roadblock.
Male politicians are trying to force them right back out.
It’s not a partisan issue, either. According to an analysis done by Talking Points Memo, female politicians have taken the brunt of the damage from the 2012 redistricting proposals, regardless of which party was in charge of redrawing maps. When it came to creating less incumbent-friendly districts or pitting incumbents against another incumbent, the candidates involved were often female, even despite the fact that there were so many fewer of them in office to begin with.
TPM points to North Carolina, where Democratic women, especially leaders, are forced to fight against each other for new districts. “In all, 10 of 25 Democratic women lawmakers in the state were either ‘double bunked’ — forced into a district with another incumbent — or drawn into heavily Republican districts,” writes Sarah Libby.
Democratic women in New Jersey have had the same issue. “In New Jersey, where women accounted for 28 percent of the 2011 Legislature, they made up 70 percent of the legislators who retired as a result of redistricting.”
But in Colorado, it’s Republican women who took the hit. “Take Colorado, for example,” says Libby, “which has the highest percentage (40) of female lawmakers in the county and where Democrats essentially controlled the redistricting process via a special commission. ‘Three of the nine Republican women in the House will have to run in a primary with another GOP incumbent. Two of them, House Majority Leader Amy Stephens and Rep. B.J. Nikkel, the majority whip, are in leadership,’ according to the Denver Post.”
Minnesota saw the same issue. With the Republican party in charge of redistricting, many of the new incumbent vs incumbent matchups, such as John Marty (no relation) vs. Mary Jo McGuire. Marty ended up with the DFL (Democratic Party) endorsement, leaving McGuire without a district.
It happened repeatedly across Minnesota, with women losing or backing out of a majority of the battles. Even Republican women were put up against rivals in their own party, and losing out, such as one of the few Republican legislatures being put up against the House Majority leader.
As Politics in Minnesota wrote, it was no doubt deliberate, and effective. “Recruiting and electing more women in the predominantly male Minnesota Legislature has been an issue for decades, but the release of the state’s redistricting maps in February has intensified a feeling among some female lawmakers that they are being pushed out of St. Paul. Out of a total of 16 incumbent-on-incumbent matchups as a result of the new political maps, 10 pitted a male incumbent against a female lawmaker. In the four male-versus-female intraparty incumbent pairings that made it all the way to an endorsement contest, only one woman came out the victor.”
We’re already having a difficult time getting women into office. Now it looks like it’s even harder to keep them there, thanks in part to their male colleagues.
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