The Mary Sue: Pissed Off and Pro-Choice, Women Are Running for Office in Record-Breaking Numbers
By Marykate Jasper
After the election of noted misogynist and admitted sexual harasser Donald Trump, who ran against the first woman to win the popular vote for the American presidency, many women despaired—and then they got angry, and they got ready to run for office. Both Virginia and New Jersey are holding off-year statewide legislative elections this month, and according to analysis from the Center for Public Integrity, both states are seeing the highest number of women candidates in their state elections since at least 2007. And in both states, the majority of female candidates are Democrats: 61% (48 out of 79) in New Jersey and 81% (43 out of 53) in Virginia.
“It was a waking moment for many women,” said Hala Ayala, a Democrat who’s running in Virginia. “I saw a lot of women put on their sneakers and say, ‘Enough is enough,’ and now we are going to do something about it.”
As The Washington Post points out, many of the women running have intersectional identities, and their candidacies are milestones in other important ways. Ayala, quoted above; Republican Lolita Mancheno-Smoak; and Democrat Elizabeth Guzman are all in the running to become Virginia’s first Latina Delegate. And Danica Roem, who’s running in Virginia’s 13th District, would be Virginia’s first transgender representative if elected.
(If you’d like to make phone calls for the female candidates in the Virginia elections, Flippable has a tool for you.)
Here are just some of the heartening stats shared by CNN:
- The number of women who contacted EMILY’s List, an organization dedicated to electing pro-choice Democrat women, increased from 920 for all of the 2016 election cycle to more than 19,000 since Trump’s election.
- She Should Run, which provides networking and resources for women who want to run for office, receives an annual average of 1,800 calls. Since the 2016 election, they’ve received more than 15,000.
- Two years ago, 24 Democrat women ran for the 100-seat Virginia House of Delegates. This time around, there are 43, 26 of whom are running for public office for the first time.Nine Republican women and one independent woman are also in the running.
- Applications to Emerge America, a 70-hour training program for female Democratic candidates, are up 87% from 2016.
- “We’ve never seen anything like this,” Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY’s List, told Vox. “It is a truly transformational moment.”
However, it’ll take far more than one election to build up a pipeline of women candidates. The U.S. has a dismal world ranking for women in political power. According to the Center for American Women in Politics, women currently hold only 19.6% percent of the seats in Congress and 25% of the seats in state-level legislatures. Women of color hold only 7.1% of the seats in Congress and 5.9% of the seats in state legislatures. If change continues at the current pace, we won’t reach gender parity in Congress for another 100 years.
“It’s about building the pipeline,” Erin Loos Cutraro, the CEO of She Should Run, said to CNN. “If we want to see equity for women in government in our lifetime, we have to have record-breaking election cycles in the next few cycles to come. We know this isn’t going to happen overnight, but we cannot let off the gas right now.”