Women And The GOP -- Part III, Congress

After looking at the chances for Republicans to add elected women governors and Senators in the 2010 election cycle, let's turn to the US House of Representatives.

There are now just 17 Republican women in the House, out of 177 -- down from 25 three years ago.

One of those 17 is not running for re-election: Mary Fallin, who is running for Governor of Oklahoma. At least two others are considered vulnerable: Schmidt of Ohio, and Bachmann of Minnesota.

Republicans are likely to add at least 20 new members in 2010, from beating vulnerable Democrats and replacing Republicans who are leaving.

But here the dearth of viable female candidates is especially notable. Consider: the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee has thus far placed 45 candidates on its "Young Guns" list, making them potentially eligible for help from the party -- and just four of those 45 are women. And in three of those four cases, the RCCC has also placed a man on the Young Guns list in the same district, so it's not as though the path is being cleared.

Right now, probably the best chance of a woman Republican getting elected -- just to bring the total back to 17 -- is Martha Roby of Alabama, who is vying to face incumbent Democrat Bobby Bright.

Jennifer Horn has a shot in New Hampshire, for Paul Hodes's seat -- but it appears that former Congressman Charlie Bass is looking to jump in and probably deny her the nomination; she would be an underdog to win the general anyway, although it's possible if this is a good Republican cycle.

There are only about a half-dozen other races in the country where a woman is running as a serious candidate, in a district where the Republican has a realistic chance of winning: two Kansas seats and one in Tennessee being vacated by Republicans running for higher office; and three races in Florida, Illinois, and New York with vulnerable Democratic incumbents. In all of these races, the women have serious male competitors in the GOP primary.

There's still time for more women challengers to appear, but it seems to me that the Republicans will be lucky to come out of this cycle with the same number of women in the House they come in with -- 17 -- and have very little chance to surpass 20, even if this turns out to be a good GOP cycle.

So, let's sum up all three of these posts:

Women currently make up 14% of GOP governors (3 of 22). The party is likely to increase its total share of governors, but probably the same number of women.

Women currently make up 10% of GOP Senators (4 of 40). The party is likely to end this cycle with as many, or perhaps more Senators, but probably the same number of women.

Women currently make up just under 10% of GOP US Representatives (17 of 177). The party is likely to end this cycle with quite a few more members of Congress, but probably the same number of women, or perhaps one or two more.

As I said to start, I'm not getting into the causes here. I'm just looking at the results. But if it's struggling to have women make up a mere 10 percent of its elected officeholders, I think that's a big, big problem for the party -- and one that shows no signs of improving, even in what should be a great opportunity to at least begin to remedy the situation.


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