State legislatures across the country could be transformed this year by a surge of women running for office, according to EMILY’s List.
The Democratic-aligned group, which backs women running for office who support abortion rights, said its preferred candidates have filed to run in more than 1,200 “critical” races this cycle, many of them for the first time.
EMILY’s List took credit for the surge in a Monday news release, saying its “extensive efforts” to recruit pro-choice Democratic women in “targeted states nationwide” contributed to the “historic” number of women candidates.
The group highlighted 23 states in which a large number of candidates have filed to turn their legislatures more female, more Democratic and more favorable to abortion rights.
In Georgia, for example, 55 percent of Democratic candidates are women this cycle — 90 Democratic women are running in general elections in the state, up from 50 in 2016. Less than a third of the state’s 236 legislative seats are currently held by women.
Montana’s state house is equally male-dominated, and half the Democratic candidates running for seats are women.
State legislatures, which have long been key battlegrounds for the debate over abortion policy, are a key plank in EMILY’s List’s strategy this election cycle, according to the group’s president, Stephanie Schriock.
“At a time when Republican-controlled state legislatures are passing some of the strictest anti-choice, anti-women legislation we’ve seen in years and the fate of abortion rights hangs in the balance at the Supreme Court, the stakes couldn’t be higher,” Schriock said.
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