Come mid-term elections in 2018 women won't just be sitting around waiting for the world to change, thank you very much. Far from it. According to the Washington Post, more than 11,000 women have reached out to Emily’s List this year saying they're interested in running for office.
“This is unprecedented,” Stephanie Schriock, president of the progressive organization dedicated to electing Democratic women to office, told the paper. In all of 2016, approximately 900 women in total spoke with the group about running for office. Now, less than four months into 2017, more than 12 times that amount have reached out to explore the possibility.
This grand numerical total includes people interested in running for local school boards, state legislatures and Congress, but Schriock told the Post that she believes a few dozen of them are "seriously considering House races" — and House races can make a big difference to the overall political landscape.
Women turned out on the ballot en masse in Southern California for a special election to replace Xavier Becerra in Los Angeles' 34th Congressional District earlier this month. Of the 23 candidates vying for his recently vacated spot, 12 were women — more than half of the ballot.
One of those women was Alejandra Campoverdi, the first-ever deputy director of Hispanic media under President Obama. "As women, our choice…our health…our rights — they are all on the table right now," she told Refinery29 earlier this month in a powerful essay detailing her personal motivations for entering politics. "Figure out what your fight is, who is best engaging in it, and join in. I chose to run for office. But there are many other ways to stand up, and your group is out there, waiting for you with open arms, a T-shirt, and a list of things to do." (Ahem: here's that list you're looking for.)
Powerhouse Senator Kirsten Gillibrand remains equally effusive about the sudden surge of women interested in politics. “It’s a very intense time. There are so many issues that demand immediate action," she told Refinery29 recently, rattling off a list of crucial issues including the independent judiciary, the free press, reproductive rights, and refugees. According to Gillibrand, the name of the game for women in politics right now is grassroots activism. “Most of the resistance is from people standing up demanding action, demanding change, so I’m just part of something that’s larger than myself,” she told us. We must “amplify each other’s voices,” “keep fighting for what we believe in,” and “use our time and talents wisely,” she explained. “If someone’s a writer, they should write. If someone’s good at creating memes, create a meme. Create something that’s going to go viral."
The Women's March may have been the largest inaugural protest in history, but that doesn't mean the case is closed. Now, "the most important step [women] can take is to determine what in their daily lives they will do to stand up to bigotry or sexism, to help encourage a candidate to get in the race, make an action plan for the year to engage in an issue or local race, defend a friend or coworker or even run for office," former White House Communications Director Jen Psaki wrote earlier this year.
The warm up is officially over. As Emily's List president Schriock said, "first we marched. Now, we run." And according to these new numbers, we will be running in droves.
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