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Another 'Year of the Woman,' Only This Time More Republican -

Republican women fared poorly in 2018, but this year there's been an increase in the number running at both the congressional and state levels.

Alan Greenblatt, Senior Staff Writer  

October 16, 2020

Kristen O'Shea is a 28-year-old married woman who is planning to have children sometime in the foreseeable future. She’s also running for the Kansas Senate, where she’d serve a four-year term if elected. Given the timeframe, she asked some sitting senators about the chamber’s maternity leave policies.

“The men in the room laughed because they had never heard the question,” she recalls. “Probably not as many people in the room are thinking about those kinds of needs.”

The average state legislator is still a straight white man in his mid-50s. O'Shea is part of a cohort of candidates who can help reshape the demographics of legislatures. This year’s nominees are trending younger, with more of them belonging to ethnic and racial minorities or identifying as LGBTQ.

EMILY’s List, a political action committee that backs Democratic women who support abortion rights, has endorsed a record 700 legislative candidates, 30 percent of whom are women of color. The total number of women candidates at this point is just about equal to 2018, which was a record. Many women have been motivated to become more active in politics, including running for office, by the election of Donald Trump in 2016. An eye-popping 60,000 women have contacted EMILY’s List about running for office since that election, according to Stephanie Schriock, the PAC’s president, although not all of them ultimately took the plunge.

But this time around, more women, like O'Shea, are running as Republicans. “You’ve had some caucuses that were extremely aggressive about making sure they had good, quality women running on the ticket,” says Edith Jorge-Tuñón, political director of the Republican State Leadership Committee.


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