Opinion

OPINION: Wanted — More GOP Women

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Sarah Chamberlain President and CEO, Republican Main Street Partnership

This election cycle, women ruled.

Female candidates for Congress and the record turnout of female voters made headlines nationwide. We saw an unprecedented number of women throw their hat in the ring and put their names on the ballot.

Because of them, the number of women in Congress is at an all-time high, with more than 100 women representing constituents in districts coast-to-coast. More than half the population is female, and for too long, women have been underrepresented in Congress. This is a welcome change. But it’s a change disproportionately happening on one side of the aisle.

It’s time we elect more Republican women to Congress.

This year, it is estimated that more than 52 percent of registered female voters showed up to vote. We knew this was “the year of the woman,” but unfortunately for GOP women across the country, it was more prevalently the year of the Democratic woman.

For the Republican Party, the number of GOP women in the U.S. House has almost receded to World War II levels. We can and must do better. If we are serious about helping more Republican women get to Washington, the Republican Party needs to open its checkbooks and put our money where our mouth is.

Despite our smaller numbers, there are powerhouse GOP women that will be serving in the House; women I have been proud to support and who are ready to get to work for their districts. Women like Young Kim in California, who is poised to become the first Korean American woman ever elected to Congress, and Carol Miller in West Virginia, who became only the third woman elected to federal office from the state.

There are many challenges facing Republican women when embarking on a campaign for office, but a huge piece of this puzzle can be solved during the critical and often overlooked primary season.

In mid-2018, Tennessee hosted a highly-contested primary race for the Second Congressional District. Defending Main Street, the Super PAC I oversee to support commonsense Republicans running for Congress, invested six figures to try and help Lt. Colonel Ashley Nickloes through the primary, and we were the only major group to do so.

Nickloes lost the race after being outraised and outspent by two of her male opponents. “If we had just had that money earlier,” Nickloes told The New York Times, “we would have been unstoppable.”

Encouraging everyone from small-dollar donors to major campaign funders to support candidates, especially female ones, in the early primary season is critical.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, men contribute about 65 percent of all the money in congressional campaigns. In many districts nationwide, because of the heavily partisan makeup of the district, the candidate who wins the primary often wins the general.

That’s why through our Main Street Women initiative, I plan to travel across the country and help encourage and provide that critical funding for women candidates.

The Women of Main Street will financially support current GOP female members of Congress, which is a necessary part of building our ranks in Washington. The initiative will also help provide seed money to those women who are ready to run for office but need financial backing to get their campaigns moving.

When meeting with potential female candidates in the past, I’ve learned that on a checklist of 10 items, women often think they need nine or all ten items to be eligible to run. Men, however, could only have one or two items and be confident they can run — and win. This dynamic needs to change, and it’s up to us to help change the narrative.

We need to encourage and recruit qualified women to take the leap and run for office.

We might have just had “the year of the woman” but we certainly cannot limit women’s involvement, engagement and influence to just one year. Our work is far from over. It is critically important that our communication and engagement with this demographic continues.

We need more Republican women to raise their hands and say “count us in!” and it’s up to us to help them on their road to Congress.

Sarah Chamberlain is the president and CEO of the Republican Main Street Partnership.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.