Wave of Female Candidates Makes an Early Dent in Midterm Elections

Former El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar reacts after winning her Democratic primary race for the 16th congressional district in El Paso, Texas, March 6, 2018. (Julio-Cesar Chavez/Reuters)
2018 will see a record number of female congressional candidates.

The wave of women running for Congress this year has already had an effect in the 2018 midterm elections, the first contest of which came during yesterday’s primaries in Texas.

Over half of nearly 50 women, a record number, running for Congress in Texas won their primaries or advanced to a runoff election. The number of female congressional candidates nationally has skyrocketed as well since February 2016, when 212 were running. Now, at least 431 female candidates are expected to run for the House. Female Senate candidates numbered 25 in 2016 but have doubled to 50 this election cycle.

This wave has a Democratic flavor because many women were energized after the 2016 election to push back against President Trump, according to Virginia Democratic House candidate Helen Alli. The Women’s March in January 2017 attracted hoards of women to Washington, D.C., eager to protest President Trump’s pro-life policies, as well as express disgust at ribald comments he has made about women in the past.

Only 92 of the 431 female House candidates are Republican. However, almost half of the female Senate candidates are running as Republicans; 21 Republican women are running compared to 29 Democrats. The GOP will have more Senate, House, and gubernatorial female candidates in 2018 than it has had since 2002.

The #MeToo movement has also encouraged women to run for office, some candidates say. EMILY’s List, which supports Democratic women in their campaigns, reported an “unprecedented’’ number of women wanting to run for office this cycle. The group has been contacted by 30,000 women, a sharp jump from the 920 who had expressed interest at this time in the 2016 cycle.

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