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November 27, 2015

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Damon Political Report

Women well positioned to increase ranks in Congress, state legislatures


Leila Navidi

Congresswomen Shelley Berkley, from left, and Dina Titus speak to the public during a meeting with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, right, to talk about the recently passed health care bill, at the Henderson Multigenerational Center in Henderson on Monday, Sept. 27, 2010.

With a record number of female candidates on ballots across the country this year, voters have a chance to reverse a sudden drop in the number of female lawmakers, according to a campaign to increase the number of women elected to legislative offices.

Mary Hughes, the founder of The 2012 Project campaign, said women candidates are well positioned this year to sweep more offices than usual thanks to an unusual set of circumstances.

With legislative reapportionment boosting the number of open and competitive seats and a presidential election driving high turnout, women have a greater chance of success this year than in other elections, Hughes said.

“The last time we had an election like this was 1992,” Hughes said. “We had a big year in 1992. We elected 24 new women—the largest cohort of women to Congress ever.”

The 2012 Project, which is holding a leadership summit in Las Vegas this week, is aimed at recruiting and training female candidates for legislative office.

This year, 298 female candidates filed to run for Congress and 154 have so far won their primaries, Hughes said. In Nevada, Rep. Shelley Berkley is running for the Senate and former Rep. Dina Titus is running for the House. Both are Democrats.

“In 2010, we lost about 80 women from the state legislatures across the country and had the first Congress sworn in with fewer women in 30 years,” Hughes said. “But the (2012) prognosis at this moment: it looks very good to stop that backward trend.”

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