EMILY’s List alerted its membership Wednesday to four female House contenders that it believes are worth watching, marking its first official show of support this cycle.
The Democratic, pro-abortion rights organization identified former West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel in Florida’s 22nd district, former Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick in Arizona’s 1st district, lawyer Ann McLane Kuster in New Hampshire’s 2nd district and former Iowa first lady Christie Vilsack in the state’s 4th district as its first set of candidates to receive its “On the List” designation.
“2012 is shaping up to be a huge year for women candidates,” EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock said in a statement. “EMILY’s List wants to help them now. ‘On the List’ provides us with a way to get in faster and introduce our members to these great candidates right away.”
The “On the List” designation is a new feature for the 2012 cycle and differs from a full EMILY’s List endorsement, which is typically announced later in the cycle after the organization has had more contact with the candidate and knows more about the race. A news release from EMILY’s List described “On the List” as a notification to the group’s 900,000 members to “engage with and support” promising candidates earlier in the election cycle.
The four “On the List” candidates have either announced they are running or are officially exploring bids for House seats.
Kuster lost an open-seat race to Charles Bass (R-N.H.) by less than 2 points in November and intends to take him on again this cycle.
Frankel announced last month that she would challenge freshman Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), a conservative firebrand who represents the Sunshine State’s east coast between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale. However, because Florida is picking up two House seats this cycle because of a population increase, both West and Frankel might be running in a dramatically different district next year.
Kirkpatrick also announced in March that she would seek a rematch with freshman Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), who defeated her by 6 points in November. But Arizona is due to gain a House seat this cycle, and there’s a good chance the new 1st district will not look much like her former territory.
In fact, Vilsack is the only challenger in the bunch who already knows the exact shape of her desired district. Less than 24 hours after Gov. Terry Branstad (R) signed off on Iowa’s new Congressional map last week, Vilsack announced she is exploring a challenge to five-term Rep. Steve King (R) in the newly formed 4th district in the state’s northwest quadrant.