Feb. 8, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

NRCC Lacks Women in Top-Tier Races

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 aren’t populating the red-to-blue or the blue-to-red districts, where the Democrats and Republicans are focusing their efforts, then they’re 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 aren’t running in the most competitive House races.

“A Republican woman has something really special and unique to offer in 2010. I still believe that we’re 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 NRCC’s “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 won’t be eligible for the program until the end of the first fundraising quarter. Among them are former U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan in Pennsylvania’s 4th district and state Rep. Kristi Noem in South Dakota.

“Female candidates across the country are doing a phenomenal job thus far, and we’re 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 Minnesota’s 6th district and a couple of others in potentially competitive races were not included.

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