A record number of women are expected to run for office this year — and it’s not just Democrats and Trump critics who are lining up to get involved.
She Should Run is an advocacy group supporting female candidates, and CNN reports that more than 15,000 women have gotten in touch with the organization since the 2016 election. Emerge America, meanwhile, offers training to female Democratic candidates and says it has seen an 87 percent increase in applicants to their training programs. ABC News reports that, according to EMILY’s List, an organization that works to help elect women who support abortion rights, the number of women reaching out for help to run for political office multiplied 26-fold, from 1000 after the previous election cycle to 26,000 in 2017.
Yup, women in America are taking political matters into their own hands, and with good reason. Women account for just 20 percent of US Representatives and senators and 25 percent of state lawmakers, and are mayors of only 20 percent of the country’s biggest cities.
One unquestionable impetus behind the surge was the election of Donald Trump, a president who stands accused of sexual misconduct by more than a dozen women and who has publicly bragged about committing sexual assault. Last January’s women’s march saw millions of women take to the street and voice their concerns over a new government that seemed poised to slide backward on issues like women’s rights, immigration reform, health care, racial and gender equality, and freedom of religion.
In many respects, this surge in female political action has bolstered the Democratic party, reports the New York Times. In the Virginia state legislative races, the GOP watched as 11 female Democratic candidates won seats previously held by Republicans.
But it’s not a shift that is limited to the Democratic party by any means. ABC News reports that the Republicans’ “Right Women, Right Now” program has helped elect 390 new GOP women to office since its launch in 2012. There have never been more than nine women state governors at the same time, but this year there will be 36 governor’s races at the state level, and 28 Republican women — along with 49 Democrats — will be running to fill them.
One of the factors driving women to run for office is the #MeToo movement, which saw women across industries around the world speak out against sexual harassment and assault. Tina Smith was chosen as the replacement for Democratic Senator Al Franken, who resigned in the wake of sexual harassment allegations, and she may not be the last woman to take the place of a man whose negative actions have finally come to light.
Of course, not every woman who runs for office in 2018 will be elected to office, but many will, and those who don’t will likely continue to fight alongside the women that make it in. The more voices we have in office, the more likely we are to have our concerns heard, regardless of which side of the aisle we fall on.
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