This article appeared in the July 31, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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After setback, House Republican women poised for a comeback

Meg Kinnard/AP
South Carolina state Rep. Nancy Mace, the first woman to graduate from The Citadel, smiles after being recognized by Vice President Mike Pence during a speech at The Citadel, Feb. 13, 2020, in Charleston, South Carolina.
Linda Feldmann
Washington Bureau Chief

Last summer, when GOP Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota came to the Monitor Breakfast, he talked up all the Republican women planning to run for Congress. Let’s just say I was skeptical. After all, Representative Emmer, who chairs the House Republican campaign committee, is good at spin. 

Turns out he was right. A record 227 Republican women filed to run for the House this year, according to the Center for American Women and Politics. That crushes the prior record of 133, set in 2010. 

House Republicans were decimated in the 2018 midterms, and saw their female ranks plunge to 13. Democratic House women, meanwhile, spiked to a record 89. 

Two House GOP women led the charge to rebuild their numbers: Susan Brooks of Indiana and Elise Stefanik of New York. Some impressive women are running. Nancy Mace of South Carolina is a state representative, the first female graduate of The Citadel, and a single mom. She tells NPR that when a Democrat won her local congressional seat in 2018, her daughter said, “Hey Mommy, when are we going to take out [Rep.] Joe Cunningham?” 

Michelle Steel of California, a first-generation Korean American, serves on the Orange County Board of Supervisors, and boasts cross-party appeal. 

Republicans overall face strong headwinds in November, with an unpopular president at the top of the ticket. House Democrats, too, boast a record number of women, 357, filing to run. But it’s the GOP breakthrough that’s the story. 

Last summer, Republican women in Congress seemed an endangered species. Now they’re aiming for a comeback. And with that comes the diversity of thought and experience that can only enrich political discourse as a whole.

This article appeared in the July 31, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 07/31 edition
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