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WRVO: Female candidates competing for several of New York’s congressional seats

August 4, 2016

WRVO: Female candidates competing for several of New York's congressional seats

by Payne Horning

Women only make up about a quarter of Congress, but that may change this year. 

Many high-profile elections this fall feature female candidates, including here in upstate New York; from Democratic challenger Colleen Deacon in central New York's 24th Congressional District to former gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout, a Democrat running in the 19th Congressional District. 

Syracuse University women and politics professor Kristi Andersen attributes it to an increasing effort by political parties and organizations to recruit women for local offices. 

"In order to get people eventually to run for Congress, mostly those people have served somewhere else," Andersen said. "You have to have people in the pipeline, so to speak, and I think that's been happening."  

That rings true in the the race for the 22nd Congressional District where Republican Claudia Tenney, an Assemblywoman from New Hartford, faces Democrat Kim Myers, a Broome County legislator. But Andersen said this race is actually unique because the Republican candidate is a woman. 

"The Republican caucus in the House has been becoming less female," Andersen said. "The Democratic caucus is getting more female. Women in general are less conservative on a whole range of issues than Republican men, so women Republicans are having a harder time in general getting through the primaries or getting nominated by their party." 

Tenney isn't the only female Republican running in New York. Wendy Long is challenging Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and in the North Country, incumbent Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-Willsboro) is seeking reelection. Of New York's 28 congressional seats up for grabs this fall, there are only 15 races featuring female candidates from both parties despite the fact that women make up more than half of the state's population.