Will Election Year 2018 truly be The Year of The Woman In Office?
There is an unprecedented surge of first-time female candidates, overwhelmingly Democratic, running for offices big and small, from the U.S. Senate and state legislatures to local school boards. At least 79 women are exploring runs for governor in 2018. The number of Democratic women likely challenging incumbents in the U.S. House of Representatives is up nearly 350 percent from 41 women in 2016. Since President Trump’s election, more than 26,000 women have reached out to Emily's List, which recruits and trains Democratic women, about launching a campaign.
But here in California, the bluest state of them all, women candidates are still hitting a wall. True, Barbara, Diane and Kamala have been our U.S. Senators for decades, but the only woman running for governor (we've never had a female one), is polling in single digits, and women account for only 26 of the 120 state legislators. In a round of caucus meetings back in January, Democratic Party activists in three competitive Southern California House races overlooked EMILY’s List-endorsed candidates and threw their support, by wide margins, to men.
Even after the #MeToo movement, female candidates in California are still forced to contend with lots of disadvantages — fewer political connections, competitors with higher profiles, a lack of desire for bare-knuckle politics, and supporters unaccustomed to writing women large checks. But the 2016 election has energized women in unprecedented numbers to step up to run - what will the results be in 2018?
We went to Arcade Underground in Old Sacramento to talk with women running for political office for the very first time, and the women who recruit and train these novice candidates. They explained the upsides and the challenges for women candidates running in California, what has changed for better and for worse after Election 2016, and what they predict will happen in this current election year.
* Regina Bateson - Democratic candidate for Congress in California’s 4th Congressional District, held by long-time Republican incumbent Tom McClintock
* Kula Koenig - president of the Sacramento chapter of Black Women Organized for Political Action, an advocacy group encouraging African American women to be more involved in politics
* Rachel Michelin - executive director of California Women Lead, a nonpartisan organization providing women candidates and appointees the training and support needed to be successful in the political arena
* Amanda Renteria - former aide to Diane Feinstein, Hillary Clinton and Xavier Becerra who just announced a bid to run for Governor of California