"Emerge helped me reach out to people, to be comfortable asking for help," says 2011 Emerge alum Dauna Binder, who is running in a three-way Democratic primary to replace Portland representative Anne Haskell, who announced that she would not seek re-election.

Simpson cites research by Jennifer Lawless, the director of the Women and Politics Institute at American University in Washington, DC, showing, among other things, that women are less likely than men to demonstrate ambition to seek elective office — regardless of their level of professional accomplishment. Also, despite changing social attitudes and the emergence of high-profile women in politics, the gap between men and women's interest in running for office has remained stuck.

Let's hope that the flood of interest in Maine indicates that those trends are shifting here.

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