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At an event hosted by the 2012 Project inNew York last night, a nonpartisan campaign to increase the number of women in Congress and state legislatures, Director Debbie Walsh was hopeful. This could be “a real year of opportunity much like 1992,” the original Year of the Woman, she said.
What makes her so optimistic? Due to retirements and redistricting, women are running for a bunch of open seats. In fact, 16 women are vying for just such opportunities in the Senate and 71 women are doing so in the House, according to the Rutgers Center for American Women and Politics. On top of that, Walsh pointed out, “We’re on track to set records for the number of women filing to run for the U.S. House and Senate.” A total 25 women have filed in the Senate with 14 likely women candidates poised to follow suit, and 225 have filed for the House with a potential extra 70 likely candidates set to do the same. Compare that to 36 women who filed in the Senate and 262 who filed in the House in 2010.
This isn’t just important for ensuring that our Congress – which has never been more than 18 percent women – better reflects the country’s population. It’s also important for getting women to turn out for the election in the first place. At the same event, Celinda Lake, president of polling firm Lake Research Partners, pointed out that while the “War on Women” episode may have gotten women’s attention, “to keep women in the Democratic camp they’ll have to work just as hard to target women voters.” The best way to do it? “Run women candidates.”