While over half the U.S. population is female, four out of every five members of the U.S. House of Representatives are men.
Given the number of women running for Congress in 2018, that statistic may significantly change when new members of the House take office in January of 2019.
The Associated Press has reported that more women are running for House seats this year than ever before, and candidate filing periods remaining open in more than half the states. And in many congressional districts a woman is running for the first time for seats that have always been held by men.
“It’s about time,” said Kara Eastman who is running in the Democratic primary for a seat in Omaha, Nebraska.
A surge of women candidates running in the midterm elections this year has been reported ever since the massive Women’s Marches that took place the day after Trump took office in January of 2017. Emily’s List, a group with supports and trains women candidates for public office, hired five additional staff members last year. They reported that they had heard from 16,000 women interested in becoming candidates in 2018.
As of Thursday, a total of 309 women have filed candidacy papers to run for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018 which beats the previous record of 298 in 2012.
These female candidates still have a long way to go before taking office, however. They must survive party primaries which is a major hurdle in itself. If they become their party’s nominee of course they must still win the general election, and that is difficult in districts where their opponent is an incumbent with widespread name recognition who also has a large amount of campaign cash on hand.
Political analysts have commented that even with these factors to overcome there is still an excellent chance that this year will see many more women candidates win seats in Congress. Not only is there the proverbial “Blue Wave” of anti-Trump sentiment to help them, but this year has also seen a record number of retirements and resignations by current House members. Without these incumbents to run against, many House seats are wide open, and certainly a good number of women will be able to win these seats.
Successful female candidates are not focusing on Trump but are talking about the “kitchen table” issues of health care, education, early childhood development, family leave and workplace equality.
In Omaha, Eastman said what really motivated her to run for office was the Republican attempt to cut health care and take away environmental protections. After her mother was was diagnosed with cancer for the fifth time and saw her prescription drug prices go through the roof, she made the decision to run.
“It’s a great thing for me to show my 16-year-old daughter,” Eastman said of her decision to enter the political arena.
With motivated women running all over the country this year there is a new energy in our nation’s politics, and this kind of energy and motivation makes it much more likely that we will indeed see a Blue Wave in 2018. Women really do belong in the House.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.