Feb. 7, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

NRCC Lacks Women in Top-Tier Races

A few female Republican candidates said they were courted by the NRCC to run at first. But they also expressed disappointment at the number of female candidates on the Young Guns list — especially given the opportunities for the party as a whole in 2010.

Washington state Rep. Jaime Herrera (R) said recruitment phone calls from the NRCC began early last fall — months before Rep. Brian Baird (D) announced he was retiring from his competitive House seat. As the only female in GOP leadership in the Washington House, Herrera said she thinks her candidacy brought a fresh perspective to federal races.

“It’s a perfect opportunity, because what people are looking for right now [is] contrast,” Herrera said. “And what women are able to present is contrast.”

Before plunging into the race, Herrera also called her old boss on Capitol Hill: McMorris Rodgers.

“There’s a lot of consideration when it comes to recruiting a candidate,” McMorris Rodgers said. “I can’t say that there has been an emphasis on recruiting women. They are really trying to recruit the best candidate in each district, and I’m always excited when it’s a woman.”

McMorris Rodgers said she would like to see more female candidates make their way through the Young Guns program, although they must achieve the predetermined benchmarks like any other candidate.

“I think we’ve done a good job of encouraging women to run,” she said. “It takes time. I heard once about women [that] it takes a women on average two years to decide to run for office.”

Herrera said she felt like she had a head start compared with most female candidates because she was thinking about a bid early in the cycle.

“Well, two years ago, where everybody was at, was Republicans got spanked by the electorate,” Herrera quipped. “Not as many people are thinking, ‘Well, I’m going to run in two years.’”

State Rep. Jackie Walorski, who is running against Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), has already achieved the entry-level “On the Radar” status in the NRCC’s program. She recalled how the NRCC has heavily courted her in past cycles to run — to the extent that she eventually hung up the phone on them.

The NRCC “started calling me three or four years ago,” Walorski recalled. “They called me constantly to try to get me to run. I got so tired of hearing from them, I told them to stop calling me.”

But since she publicly started to consider a bid last fall, she said her interaction with the committee and GOP Members has been minimal. She was also stunned by the low number of Republican female candidates in top races, given that she believes this is a perfect environment for women in the GOP to run for office.

“When you say that as a woman, that I want to take [Speaker Nancy Pelosi] on and win, I think that opens up a different dynamic,” Walorski said.

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