In response to accusations of a gender gap with Democrats, the GOP has more than doubled their number of female recruits in congressional races. Up from 48 in the previous election cycle, there are 103 Republican women who are running for House seats in this election cycle. These numbers include the incumbent Republican women who are running.
The GOP seeks to boost its female recruits not only in response to accusations of a gender gap, but also as the GOP seeks to hold the majority in the House. The GOP believes that boosting the numbers of female recruits running for House seats could prove crucial as they seek to hold the majority especially in swing suburban districts where a significant percentage of the voting block is made up of independent voters and college educated women.
On Sunday, the Hill reported: “Democrats have been busy attracting candidates in those districts, too, as the #MeToo movement and furor surrounding President Trump's policies energizes the left.”
Matt Mackowiack, GOP strategist, told the Hill: “The number of female candidates on the Republican side doubling is not an accident… “That is a result of a disciplined effort to recruit strong female candidates, both from the party directly, but also from outside groups that believe female candidates give them a better chance to hold, and perhaps expand, their majority.”
Some of the hottest races this election cycle include the races to replace retiring Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Dave Trott (R-Mich), all of these races feature Republican women, vying for the seat.
Jesse Hunt, the national press secretary for the National Republican Congressional Committee, told the Hill: “We’ve seen an intense level of interest from Republican women in running for Congress this cycle, and some of the strongest candidates we have running currently are females in competitive districts… It’s a testament to their backgrounds, their careers, and their ability to communicate the Republican message.”
Furthermore challenging the GOP’s struggle to up their female percentage in the House, six Republican women have decided to either retire or seek a higher office. This will reduce the number of Republican women in the house by 25%.
The Hill reported: “Democrats have the advantage of a long-standing centralized effort to recruit and support female candidates in the form of EMILY’s List, which was founded in 1985… Maggie’s List was founded by a group of conservative women in 2010 to serve as a counter to EMILY’s List, while Value in Electing Women PAC was started in 1997 and RightNOW Women PAC was founded in the 2014 election cycle.” However, Maggie’s List and other Republican organization’s to support female candidates do not have the same level of prestige or longevity that Emily’s list has established.
Missy Shorey, the national executive director of Maggie’s List, has seen an increased interest in Republican women running for office and that fewer women need encouragement to run, which she says has been one of the biggest barriers to female recruits.
The Hill Reported:
“Part of the reason, she says, is that women are now able to witness other prominent female Republicans who are able to balance their busy congressional careers with other duties, like being a mother. Rep. Martha Roby (R-Ala.), for example, was connected with House GOP Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), a working mom and the only female member of leadership, before she came to Congress.”
Republican Lena Epstein appears to be one of the women who was inspired by the likes of Roby and McMorris Rodgers. She is running for David Trott's seat in Michigan's 11th district. She had initially announced a run for Michigan's U.S. Senate, however she dropped out and began running for Trott's seat in September 2017. Epstein is a Michigan businesswoman, "who helps run her family’s automotive lubricant company, was one of Trump’s earliest supporters in the state and would soon be appointed co-chair of his Michigan campaign," reports the Washington Post.