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EMILY’s List: An unprecedented 10,000 women have told us they want to run for office thanks to Trump

March 22, 2017

Yahoo News: EMILY’s List: An unprecedented 10,000 women have told us they want to run for office thanks to Trump

by Garance Franke-Ruta

LADIES FIRST. EMILY’s List announced Wednesday that more than 10,000 women have reached out to the group since Hillary Clinton lost the presidential election to say they want to run for office, a record number in such a short time for the group.

“Over ten thousand women isn’t a ripple — it’s a wave,” said EMILY’s List president Stephanie Schriock in a statement. “The thousands of women who have reached out to EMILY’s List since the election are a testament to the energy, determination, and resistance we’ve seen from Day One of Donald Trump’s presidency.”

The number of women reaching out to express interest in entering the political arena is “roughly ten times as many as reached out during the entire 2016 election cycle, from January 2015 to last November,” according to Fortune’s World’s Most Powerful Women newsletter, which has been tracking the surge in women’s interest in running for office since earlier this year.

“For women, running for office is a direct response to the dangerous agenda pushed by a president and Republican Party determined to turn back the clock on women’s progress,” said Schriock. “Republicans everywhere should sit up and take notice — because this is only the beginning.”

Founded in 1985, EMILY’s List is a political action committee dedicated to electing pro-abortion-rights Democratic women candidates, and has been involved in financing the campaigns of more than a third of the more than 300 women elected to the U.S. Congress in American history. Women currently make up 19.4 percent of Congress and 24.8 percent of statehouse officeholders, according to the Rutgers Center for Women and Politics. The number of women elected to Congress stayed flat in 2016.

“For all of the talk of this being a change election, it was not a change election for women in politics,” Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women in Politics, told the Washington Post after the election. “We just aren’t seeing enough of them.”

For a host of reasons — from the demographics of the districts they run in to cultural divides on women’s roles outside the home — most women who win seats in Congress are Democrats, and so in recent years, when Democrats have done poorly, women’s numbers in elected office have tended to stall or decline.

For their part, House Republicans have elevated women to several committee chairmanships in the latest Congress.

MODELING LEADERSHIP. Though Schriock credits Trump with the surge in interest that EMILY’S List is seeing, it’s worth noting that other groups that aim to encourage women to run for office were noting increased interest during the presidential contest, as the first female major-party nominee running for the White House changed the picture of what female politicians could aspire to be.

Take Running Start, a nonprofit that seeks to train both Republican and Democratic young women to run for office. “[Last year] was a really miraculous year for Running Start; 2016 was the year everything doubled,” said Susannah Wellford, the group’s president and founder, at its annual Young Women to Watch Awards in Washington, D.C., Monday night. In addition to doubling the size of the staff and getting a new office, she said, “we doubled the number of supporters we have. And then most importantly, we had the biggest outpouring of young women coming to us saying they wanted to get involved.”

In 2017 the group will train 1,500 young women in the skills they need to succeed in the political arena in the years to come.

ONE FOR ALL. A more immediate candidate recruitment effort took place on Tuesday in Washington, as the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee hosted the first-ever gathering of party and outside groups working on state and local candidate recruitment. An astounding 20 organizations sent representatives — from stalwarts like EMILY’s List to newbies such as Run for Something, which is just one of the many of new groups that have popped up since Trump took office looking to affect state and local races. The gathering was called “The Combine,” after the term the NFL uses for a scouting event.

In a statement, DLCC executive director Jessica Post called the Combine “the most crucial recruiting event in Democratic politics,” as “the stakes for successful recruitment in the thousands of statehouse races on the ballot next year represent the future of the Democratic Party.”

The party is currently at a low ebb nationwide.

“Not only will the candidates recruited for these elections build out the party’s bench, but many of them also will help determine the balance of power in the next round of redistricting,” Post said.

Enthusiasm for running for lower offices is already visible on the ground in Virginia, DLCC Communications Director Carolyn Fiddler told Yahoo News. There, all 100 House of Delegate seats on are the ballot in 2017 — and 70 Democrats have already filed papers to run in 46 of the 56 delegate districts held by Republicans.

“I’ve been involved in Virginia politics since 2000 and I’ve never seen anything like this,” she said, adding later: “The energy is real. Folks are not just signing up to volunteer, folks are signing up to run.”

THE SLIDE TOWARD NATIONAL. One of the new groups that’s working to help elect Democrats to statehouses is called Flippable. Started by two former Hillary Clinton campaign staffers, its mission is to flip statehouses. The GOP currently controls 32 of the 50 state legislatures and, in 25 of those states, the governor is also Republican.

But Flippable is also getting into the congressional special-election game. On Tuesday night it held an online chat with Democrat Jon Ossoff, the millennial running for office in Georgia’s Republican-leaning Sixth Congressional District, which opened up when Rep. Tom Price became secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

THE OTHER TRUMP BUMP. Art-supply sales are surging thanks to the anti-Trump movement, reports the New York Times: “The week before the Women’s March on Jan. 21 in cities across the United States, protesters who were making signs helped fuel increased sales of poster boards by 33 percent and foam boards by 42 percent compared with the same week last year, the consumer research group NPD reported recently. Poster and foam board sales from Jan. 15 to 21 totaled $4.1 million.

“More than 6.5 million poster boards were sold in January, with nearly one-third sold during the week of the march. Sales of easel pads and flip charts grew by 28 percent, Leen Nsouli, an office supplies industry analyst at NPD, said in a blog post.

“Sales of the materials used to make the messages on the posters also increased that week: Specialty markers were up by 24 percent; permanent markers, 12 percent; glue, 27 percent; and scissors, 6 percent.”