GOP official: ‘Institutional barriers’ remain for Republican women seeking office

Chris Moody

The Republican Party is actively working to recruit more women to run for public office, but they still face "institutional barriers" to getting involved in GOP politics at the ground level, Republican State Leadership Committee President Chris Jankowski said on Monday.

As part of the RSLC's Right Women Right Now project, the organization, which specializes in recruiting and electing Republicans to local offices like state legislatures and attorneys general, provides resources to female candidates to help navigate the candidacy process and helps them overcome what he described as a Republican "old boy network" that undervalues women with public ambitions.

"Sometimes our party does not value them as much," Jankowski told reporters at a morning briefing at the RSLC headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Monday. "They are a great asset as candidates. They bring a different approach to campaigning. We obviously need more women to enter public office and get on that escalator to higher office so that our leadership reflects stronger women in the Republican Party."

The campaign to recruit women is part of the party's Future Majority Caucus project, a nationwide effort to train and nurture promising female and minority candidates. The group spent $5 million on the project in the past cycle. As a service to new candidates, the organization provides access to a ready-made website that offers a fundraising platform, social media expertise, voter outreach tools and training on how to navigate the candidacy application process in each state.

Women, Jankowski said, can face unique hurdles in breaking into Republican circles.

"It's safe to say that they are institutional barriers where we've met with candidates, women who felt like they weren't part of the old boy network," he said, describing what can be a daunting process for someone at the entry level who hasn't run for office before or been involved in local politics. "It can be a bit of a male-dominated club at that level, and it's important that they feel welcome and they're given the same resources, and we're doing it."

Jankowski said the RSLC plans to roll out a new platform of goals for the project at the group's summit in Austin, Texas, next week.