Government has a representation problem: It’s still a “boy’s club.” In the 115th Congress, only 19.1% of Congress seats belong to women, and only 7% belong to women of color. These statistics place the United States at 101st in gender balance among the world’s national legislatures.
By Ava Mazzye
That figure may change in 2018, as more women are running for elected office than ever. Women are running for 224 of the House’s 435 seats that are up for re-election, 23 of the 35 U.S. Senate seats, and 26 of the 36 gubernatorial offices.
This increase in female political candidates comes after an eventful year and a half for women: Hillary Clinton’s loss the Presidential election in 2017, the fact that more than three million people marched worldwide at the Women’s March in 2017, and the #MeToo movement, which has resulted in the dethroning of power-abusing men both in and out of the political realm; all of these events are factors contributing to an incredibly exciting primary season. Such a surge of women candidates promises that the 116th Congress will be more reflective of the country’s gender breakdown. In fact, the number of women who have filed to run in the 2018 primaries constitutes a massive 67% increase as compared with the number that ran in 2016.
Emily’s List, Ignite, She Should Run, The Women’s Campaign Fund, and Running Start are just a few of the many organizations that support women running for elected office, at the local, state and even federal level.
Some of the more well-known candidates include:
Paulette Jordan, who won the Democratic nomination for Governor of Idaho with 58% of the vote. If she wins, Jordan will serve as the first Native American governor in the United States.
Stacey Abrams, who won the Democratic nomination for governor of Georgia, could make history as the first black female major party gubernatorial nominee in the U.S. The race is rated as lean Republican by the Daily Kos, but Abrams could stand a chance if she is able to mobilize non-voters.
Rep. Martha McSally, who served in the Air Force for twenty two years, is vying for the Republican nomination for Jeff Flake’s (R-AZ) Senate seat. McSally is challenged by Joe Arpaio, who was pardoned by President Trump earlier this year, and State Senator Kelli Ward. In one campaign video, McSally says: in one campaign video says: “I’m a fighter pilot, and I talk like one. That’s why I told Washington Republicans to grow a pair of ovaries and get the job done.”
The Arizona primary election will take place on August 28th.
The women who are running for office today are heroines for those who are yet to run. Win or lose, these women are truly opening up space in the political realm for a more gender-inclusive electoral process in the United States.
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