GOP amps up efforts to recruit women candidates
House Republicans are accelerating efforts to recruit more female candidates as the party looks to claw back some of the suburban districts they lost to Democrats during the midterm election cycle.
The recruitment push comes after Democrats elected a record 35 women to the House last year, many in suburban districts, which analysts saw as a big factor in why the party took over the chamber.
By contrast, Republicans elected only one female lawmaker, Rep. Carol MillerCarol Devine MillerShelley Moore Capito wins Senate primary Hillicon Valley: Trump threatens Michigan, Nevada over mail-in voting | Officials call for broadband expansion during pandemic | Democrats call for investigation into Uber-Grubhub deal Republicans introduce bill to create legal ‘safe harbor’ for gig companies during the pandemic MORE (R-W.V.), while the number of female GOP representatives shrunk from 23 to 13.
Though many of the lost seats were blamed on Trump’s low favorability numbers in suburban districts, some members argue the lack of female candidates and the failure to promote policies that appeal to women played a significant role in their loss of the chamber — a misstep they’re looking to avoid in 2020.
“The road back to the majority is through the suburbs, and the road through the suburbs is going to be with strong female candidates,” National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom EmmerThomas (Tom) Earl EmmerHouse Republicans voice optimism on winning back the House following special election victories GOP pulls support from California House candidate over ‘unacceptable’ social media posts Trump campaign launches new fundraising program with House Republicans MORE (R-Minn.) told The Hill. “And we’re going to have it.”
The NRCC has already spoken to 157 women interested in running in 2020, with 42 having declared their candidacies, according to statistics provided by NRCC Recruitment Chair Rep. Susan BrooksSusan Wiant BrooksDemocrat Christina Hale and Republican Victoria Spartz to face off in House race in Indiana Key races to watch in Tuesday’s primaries The Hill’s Campaign Report: More Republican women are running for House seats MORE (R-Ind.).
Emmer added he’s met with a number of potential candidates, including New York State Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, who is running for the Staten Island seat currently occupied by freshman Max RoseMax RoseDe Blasio: Robert E Lee’s ‘name should be taken off everything in America, period’ The Hill’s Coronavirus Report: New America’s Anne-Marie Slaughter says countries around world are deciding not to trust US; All eyes on New York as city begins phased reopening Max Rose calls for National Guard to be deployed to NYC to enforce curfew MORE (D).
He also pointed to Iowa state Rep. Ashley Hinson, who has launched a bid against first-term Rep. Abby FinkenauerAbby Lea FinkenauerIowa Republican Ashley Hinson wins House primary Gloves come off as Democrats fight for House seat in California The Hill’s Campaign Report: Buzz builds around Warren for VP MORE (D) in the states’s first district as another candidate to watch out for as the next campaign cycle heats up.
Democrats in 2018 were successful in attracting a wide crop of diverse candidates, including Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarHow language is bringing down Donald Trump Biden, Democrats seek to shut down calls to defund police McEnany, Ocasio-Cortez tangle over ‘Biden adviser’ label MORE (D-Minn.), Lucy McBathLucia (Lucy) Kay McBathFloyd’s brother urges Congress to take action The Hill’s Campaign Report: Bad polling data is piling up for Trump Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton qualifies to run for county commissioner in Florida MORE (D-Ga.) and Katie HillKatherine (Katie) Lauren HillThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by The American Investment Council – Trump takes his ‘ready to reopen’ mantra on the road The Hill’s Campaign Report: Democrat concedes in California House race Republican flips House seat in California special election MORE (D-Calif.), as well as others who beat incumbents in primaries like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezAttorney says 75-year-old man shoved by Buffalo police suffered brain injury How language is bringing down Donald Trump Highest-circulation Kentucky newspaper endorses Charles Booker in Senate race MORE (D-N.Y.) or Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyHow language is bringing down Donald Trump Over 1,400 pro athletes, coaches call on Congress to back bill ending qualified immunity Biden’s right, we need policing reform now – the House should quickly take up his call to action MORE (D-Mass.)
And they successfully painted Republicans as being unfriendly to women while spotlighting issues that especially appeal to suburban moms, like health care.
Democrats are again looking to put Republicans on the defensive in 2020 after a string of GOP legislatures passed a number of actions restricting abortions, including in Alabama where the procedure was banned under almost all circumstances.
It is a lesson that Republicans have absorbed this year, as they look to prove they are a big tent party and look to dispel the notion it’s the party of old white men.
Brooks told The Hill she’s working to draft a diverse crop of candidates that represent a range of backgrounds, experience, and ideologies — going as far as to say she wouldn’t rule out a candidate that supports abortion rights or gay marriage.
“No, I wouldn’t say that that is a requirement [being pro-life or pro-traditional marriage], it’s not a requirement that I have certainly had,” she said, “and I don’t believe that it has been for [Rep.] Elise [Stefanik] (R-N.Y.) as well.”
Stefanik has been making strides to recruit and elect more Republican women to Congress through her leadership political action committee, which is looking to support female candidates in primaries.
Brooks said her focus is also on finding qualified candidates that can win in key battlegrounds, which means candidates who know their district, and have the drive to fundraise and assemble competent teams.
“I wouldn’t say there’s a demographic, I wouldn’t say there is an age group, I wouldn’t say even that there is any requirement to have any elected experience,” she said.
“We’re really trying to find out more about their roots in the community, their depth of knowledge about their community, their ability, and interest and willingness to fundraise and their ability to kind of put together teams and grassroots efforts.”
Brooks said the process of hunting for recruits has largely consisted of working with delegations from the states and local party apparatuses, and talking to people reaching out to the NRCC expressing an interest in running.
The Indiana Republican added that PACs like Stefanik’s or others like Value in Electing Women (VIEW) PAC and Winning for Women have also been instrumental during the recruiting process, with the organizations referring candidates to the NRCC and vice versa.
Stefanik, who served as the NRCC recruitment chair during the last campaign cycle, is looking to make her impact at the primary level, even as the NRCC maintains a policy of not getting involved at that stage.
Stefanik relaunched her leadership PAC in January, stating that the party has reached a “crisis level of GOP women in Congress.”
The New York Republican — who won a competitive primary race before taking office in 2014 — is hoping her PAC can help candidates strategize during primaries in open races in addition to recruiting them.
“There’s a number of candidates who are announcing in Q2. We intend to do an official slate in early fall of our top tier candidates the first round,” she told The Hill.
Stefanik mentioned Joan Perry, a pediatrician who’s running in her first race and will face off against state Rep. Greg Murphy in the GOP run-off in North Carolina’s 3rd District in July. The winner would be widely tipped to win in the heavily Republican district, replacing the late former Rep. Walter JonesWalter Beaman JonesExperts warn Georgia’s new electronic voting machines vulnerable to potential intrusions, malfunctions Georgia restores 22,000 voter registrations after purge Stacey Abrams group files emergency motion to stop Georgia voting roll purge MORE.
“You know, we’re really excited about the Joan Perry candidacy and the outside support that came in for her,” she told The Hill, adding all the Republican women were supporting the candidate.
“We have 140 women who have reached out to run, that’s a historic number and I think it’s going to really pay dividends when we get to the general election.”
In addition to recruitment efforts, Rep. Ann WagnerAnn Louise WagnerTrump, GOP go all-in on anti-China strategy House passes massive T coronavirus relief package Bottom line MORE (R-Mo.), who launched the Suburban Caucus earlier this year, is looking to craft and promote legislation on policy topics that resonate with suburban areas and women, including on flexible work time and childcare.
“We have a duty to put together a policy program and issue set, a platform so to speak, that is our contract with the suburbs — something that will support them,” she told The Hill.
“I hope many of the issues should be bipartisan,” she added. “But if not, at least we’ll be on the record as having put forth legislation that is specific to some of those quality of life, kitchen table, things that are good for their families, their communities in our growing suburbia.”
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