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While Senate Republicans boast top-flight female candidates in several marquee races, there appears to be a dearth of GOP women running in some of the most competitive House races across the country.
If women arent populating the red-to-blue or the blue-to-red districts, where the Democrats and Republicans are focusing their efforts, then theyre not running in the races where the resources to help ensure victory are directed, said Jennifer Lawless, director of the Women & Politics Institute at American University and a former Congressional candidate.
Several Republican operatives and candidates noted that the 2010 cycle could be a good opportunity for female candidates to make advances, given the anti-incumbency mood and the fact that health care an issue that traditionally plays well with female voters will be a dominant issue. But with Republicans poised to capitalize on voter anger and pick up seats in November, these operatives and candidates questioned why more female Republican candidates arent running in the most competitive House races.
A Republican woman has something really special and unique to offer in 2010. I still believe that were going to see more and more of these women emerge across the country, said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.), who heads female candidate recruitment for House Republicans.
The National Republican Congressional Committee supplied a list of more than 60 GOP women running this cycle, but only a small percentage of them so far are competitive or recognized by the committee as strong candidates.
Out of the top 10 candidates in the NRCCs Young Guns program, there is one woman: Montgomery City Councilwoman Martha Roby in Alabama. The next tier of 20 Contenders in the program includes two women, and the lowest tier of On the Radar candidates has only one.
Republicans have a large stable of challenger candidates this cycle and also face multiple competitive primaries in key districts.
Candidates are added to the Young Guns program as they achieve fundraising and campaign goals. There are a handful of potentially strong female candidates who recently entered races and wont be eligible for the program until the end of the first fundraising quarter. Among them are former U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan in Pennsylvanias 4th district and state Rep. Kristi Noem in South Dakota.
Female candidates across the country are doing a phenomenal job thus far, and were confident that through the Young Guns program more women will excel and build winning campaigns, NRCC spokeswoman Joanna Burgos said.
However, one female GOP operative, who declined to speak on the record, commented that even the name of the Young Guns program was not very friendly to female candidates. The name was inherited from an organization run by Reps. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) in previous cycles to support rising stars in the party.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee this week released its Red to Blue list, which highlights its top 13 challenger and open-seat candidates. The list includes three female candidates. Democrats do not include candidates in contested primaries on that list, which means two female candidates running in Minnesotas 6th district and a couple of others in potentially competitive races were not included.