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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation May 11, 2018


I'll start this week with some truly great news! The Washington Post was among a number of news outlets that covered the FEC's decision to allow candidates to pay for childcare from money raised for their campaign. RepresentWomen has been talking about this and other rules changes that level the playing field for women in politics so it's great to see this precedent being set. Post columnist Julie Zauzner writes:

Candidates for office can use campaign funds to pay for child care in certain cases, the Federal Election Commission ruled on Thursday in a case heralded by some activists as a victory for working women.

First-time congressional candidate Liuba Grechen Shirley, a Long Island Democrat, had petitioned the FEC for permission to pay her babysitter out of money donated to her campaign. Grechen Shirley, who previously cared for her children full time, argued that she needed the sitter only for her bid for office and that the payment therefore constituted a campaign expense.

Women’s advocates got behind her, including Hillary Clinton, who wrote a letter to the FEC on Grechen Shirley’s behalf. On Thursday, the commission ruled 4 to 0 in her favor.

“I’m thrilled. It’s a game-changer,” Grechen Shirley, 36, said shortly after the decision was announced. “I hope that this ruling today inspires more women to step up and run for office.”

FEC spokesman Myles Martin said that the last time the commission took up the question of paying for child care out of campaign donations was in 1995. Rep. Jim McCrery, a Louisiana Republican, got permission to spend campaign funds on occasional babysitting when his wife needed to travel with him as what he called an “integral” part of his campaign.

US News featured a story this week on female candidates for state legislative offices and projected that the percentage of women serving in Nevada and Arizona could top 50% after this November's elections.

Nevada and Arizona could make history this fall, with both states positioned to elect the first female-majority legislative chambers in the nation's history.

Nationally, campaign operatives say they cannot name a single state that does not have a record number of women running for state legislatures, and female candidates alone could flip party control of at least seven legislative chambers. The stage is set for a historic year for female political power at a time when state governments are filling the power vacuum left by a feuding Congress.

The candidates include teachers, businesswomen, military veterans and lawyers. Some are single mothers, and many are first-time candidates. Some have been inspired by the #MeToo movement, which has unleashed an outpouring of complaints from female legislators, lobbyists and staffers of sexual harassment, abuse and toxic work environments in America's statehouses. Some want to focus more on health and family issues they believe legislatures are ignoring. They are Democrats, Republicans and independents, representing a wide array of views on issues...

Republicans say they are seeing a spike in female candidacies as well, though Democrats are fielding more women contenders than Republicans mainly because women tend to lean Democratic, nationally. A Pew study in March found, for example, that 56 percent of women identified as Democrats or leaning toward the Democratic party, compared to 37 percent who affiliate with, or lean toward, the GOP. Women have also voted for the Democratic nominee for president at a higher rate than men for the last 10 presidential elections, according to a separate Pew study and exit polling.

Further, there are fewer opportunities for GOP female challengers, since Republicans dominate state legislatures nationally, holding 56 percent of seats to the Democrats' 43 percent. While a GOP woman could indeed challenge a sitting state legislator (as Cates is doing), it's less common for primary contenders to line up against an incumbent in the same party than it is for challengers in the party out of power.

Republicans have a program called Right Women, Right Now that has helped put 400 GOP females into state legislative seats since 2012, says Matt Walter, president of the Republican State Leadership Committee. "This is a tremendously positive thing, as we are faced with challenges in governing unlike anything we've seen in American history," Walter says. "We need everyone to feel like they've got an opportunity to participate. We need a diversity of perspectives if we're going to solve these challenges."

The number of women winning Democratic nominations this week was impressive: out of 41 total districts holding primary elections, Democrats nominated a woman in 21 of them, just over half. Of those, 6 are already held by women, while 15 are districts presently held by men. Unfortunately, all 15 of those districts are what FairVote would call "Safe" for their Republican incumbents. FairVote's Monopoly Politics model projects exactly zero of those 15 Democratic women to win, unless 2018 favors Democrats by at least 12 points, meaning a year in which Democrats win a massive landslide of 56% of the national two-party vote. And even then, FairVote would project at most two of them to win.

Republican women have picked up a couple House seats since the November 2016 election and the GOP woman in WV3 is well positioned to win in November.

While there are some chances for growth for women in US Senate this year (like open seat in AZ, where both parties may nominate women, and NV, where Democratic nominee has chance to unseat man), women are vulnerable too, like the Democratic women in MO and ND.

The Bangor Daily News reported on the results of the SurveyUSA-FairVote survey that has Janet Mills ahead in that state's first ranked choice voting election.

Republican Shawn Moody and Democrat Janet Mills are clear front-runners in Maine’s June gubernatorial primaries, while a Democratic 2nd Congressional District primary is effectively tied in the first public ranked-choice poll of Maine’s 2018 primaries.

The poll of nearly 2,200 Mainers shows highly unsettled primaries: In the 2nd District, 31 percent of likely Democratic voters didn’t know who their first choices would be and 24 percent of likely Democratic voters and 22 percent of likely Republican voters were undecided on who their nominees should be to replace to term-limited Gov. Paul LePage.

But Moody, a businessman, and Mills, the Maine attorney general, emerged as clear front-runners in the Republican and Democratic fields. Among likely voters in each party who made first-round choices, Moody was favored by 44 percent and Mills by 41 percent.

The poll, conducted by SurveyUSA, was done between April 26 and May 1, much of it before gubernatorial candidates released initial TV ads. Results were provided to the Bangor Daily News by the ranked-choice voting advocates who paid for it.

The races are fluid. If “undecided” was an option, it would be in second place in both the Republican and Democratic gubernatorial fields and more people were undecided in the 2nd District primary than the number who expressed preference for any candidate.

There was a fascinating story on CNN about the likely impact of gender quotas on election results for female candidates in Iraq where women are guaranteed to win 25% of the vote:

Whatever the outcome of Iraq's May 12 parliamentary elections, female candidates are guaranteed at least 25% of the seats, as per the country's constitution.

This year, nearly 2,600 female candidates are competing for a minimum of 83 seats reserved for women in the national parliament. Theoretically, Iraqi women could occupy positions outside the "quota seats," if they receive enough votes to win competitive seats.

However, statistics from the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) show that since the quota was introduced after the toppling of the Saddam Hussein regime in 2003, women have not won enough votes to be elected beyond this quota.

Furthermore, in the lead up to the May election, a number of female candidates have been the target of "defamation campaigns," according to the UN, pressuring them to withdraw from the race.

Two of the Iraqi women running in this election, Sabah Abdul Rasul Al Tamimi and Manal Almotasim, spoke to CNN, saying they are optimistic that opinions toward female political candidates in Iraq are changing.

Al Tamimi served as a member of the National Parliamentary Bloc for four years, from 2010 to 2014, and is running again this time around. She believes the 25% quota, while insufficient, is still important.

"This is a sign that people have faith in women and I know their consciousness (of women) will continue to increase," she tells CNN. "In the future, men will probably be needing a quota for themselves!"

Politico is collaborating with The Center for American Women and Politics and the Women in Public Service Project at the Wilson Center to track women candidates I will be interested to see how much they explore the rigidity of our political system as they draw conclusions about likely outcomes.​

And finally, Rep Elise Stefanik was ranked among the most bipartisan members of Congress according to this story in the The Sun - I am not surprised!

A think tank affiliated with Georgetown University has released its annual rankings of bipartisanship in Congress.

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-Willsboro) has scored among the top of the list.

Stefanik is ranked No. 27 out of 435 lawmakers in the report compiled by the Lugar Center and the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University.

The index measures bipartisanship using legislation sponsored and cosponsored by members of Congress and senators.

The rankings, according to the Lugar Center, allow voters to see how willing their senators and representatives are to work across party lines on drafting legislation.

The index revealed both the House and Senate remain below average for the fifth straight Congress when measured against the historic baseline, said Lugar Center President Richard G. Lugar, a former U.S. senator from Indiana.

“But in recent years, we have seen some overall improvement,” Lugar said in a statement. “Members of Congress, from the most progressive to the most conservative, can score well on the Index if they dedicate themselves to seeking bipartisan support for their own legislation and give fair consideration to a variety of legislative initiatives.”

Stefanik ranked No. 31 last year.

Have a great weekend!

P.S. Gwen Young, director of the Global Women's Leadership Initiative and Women in Public Service Project, forwarded this announcement about the launch of WPSP’s newest publication Roadmap to 50x50: Power Parity in Women’s Leadership. And this just in, CNN’s Dana Bash will be the event’s moderator. If you cannot join us at the Wilson Center we will be livestreaming here. Feel encouraged to engage and follow along on Social Media using #Roadmap50x50.





Roadmap to 50x50: Power and Parity in Women's Leadership

Discover new tools to achieve gender parity in public service leadership around the world in a groundbreaking new report from the Women in Public Service Project.

Where are women in governments around the world? How much power do they hold? How did they get to their positions of leadership? The Global Women's Leadership Initiative Index is a first-of-its-kind project that harnesses the power of data to answer these three key questions, providing a multi-dimensional snapshot of women's public service leadership in 75 countries.

Join us for the release of the first annual findings from the Leadership Index and hear from global thought leaders from across sectors on how to make practical use of these insights in the quest for gender parity.

View the full agenda here.

Event Moderator

Dana Bash
Chief Political Correspondent, CNN


The Honorable Jane Harman
Director, President and CEO, Wilson Center

Gwen K. Young
Director, Global Women's Leadership Initiative and Women in Public Service Project, Wilson Center

Shabana Azmi
Actress, Social Activist, and WPSP Global Ambassador

Michèle Flournoy
CEO, WestExec

Stephanie Gore
Director, Government, People & Change, KPMG LLP

Carla Hayden
Librarian of Congress

Katja Iversen
CEO, Women Deliver

Patrick Keuleers
Director, Governance and Peacebuilding, UNDP

H.E. Ambassador Lars Gert Lose
Ambassador of Denmark to the United States

H.E. Ambassador Jennifer Loten
Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Canada to the OAS

Ayesha Molino
Senior Vice President of Federal Government Affairs, MGM Resorts International

Nadia Younes
Chief Innovation Officer, EDGE Strategy


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Tuesday, May 15
9:30am - 11:30am

6th Floor Auditorium

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