Electing Women in 2014: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Electing Women in 2014: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Why you should care

Representative government isn’t all that representative if women remain a small slice of political leadership.

What a difference two years makes for women in politics. In November 2012, the Granite State became the first in American history to boast an all-female slate of state leaders.

Both House representatives, both senators and the governor are women. So is the speaker of the New Hampshire House.

Cherish the moment, for it’s not likely to last much past the fourth of November. Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter is the most vulnerable, trailing her Republican challenger by a few percentage points in recent polling. Her fellow Democratic congresswoman, Annie Kuster, is no lock to return to Washington, either; she could face a tough race against conservative rising star Marilinda Garcia or one of the other GOP candidates running in the primary. Scott Brown, the former senator from Massachusetts who was the bane of health care reform, has also swept in to challenge Sen. Jeanne Shaheen for her Senate seat. Speaker Terie Norelli? She’s stepping down after this session.

Elsewhere, though, November could yield good news for ladies in politics and those who love them. Like in Iowa. It’s one of two states in America that has never sent a woman to Congress or elected a female governor.

But this year, two women have a strong shot at becoming Iowa’s “first lady.” In the state’s race for an open Senate seat, Republican state senator and gun enthusiast Joni Ernst is running strong against Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley: Two months out, polling shows a dead heat. And in southwest Iowa, Democrat Staci Appel, a former state senator, is neck and neck against Republican political staffer David Young for the open seat in Iowa’s 3rd congressional district.

Should Ernst or Appel — or both! —pull off a victory, that would leave Mississippi as the only state lacking female representation at the highest levels. Any steel magnolias out there looking to make some history in 2016?

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