At the beginning of Women’s History Month, the news for women in Congress is decidedly mixed:
🟠 We’re heading into another election cycle where we could see women’s representation in Congress fall—and we need to sound the alarm.
🟠 But it’s also true that because of the stronger-than-expected showing by Democrats last year, and the recent special election in Virginia, we’re starting 2023 with a record number of women in Congress, at 125 in the House and 25 in the Senate.
Continuing progress is, of course, not guaranteed. Last cycle, all signs pointed toward us losing women until we were pleasantly surprised on Election Night. Still, we basically held our numbers in 2022. And signs are flashing red again this cycle.
Ten woman-held Democratic Senate seats are up in 2024, and we’ve already lost one due to a party switch in Arizona. The odds of losing two more women Dems increased with the retirement of incumbent Sens. Dianne Feinstein (CA) and Debbie Stabenow (MI).
Thankfully, we have three strong female candidates vying for two of these seats. Reps. Barbara Lee (CA-12) and Katie Porter (CA-47) in California, and Elissa Slotkin (MI-7) in Michigan.
But this presents another challenge. These three women will give up their House seats to run for Senate—and so far, women are not running in all soon-to-be-vacant seats.
🟠 In CA-47, no women have officially declared. The only woman in the rumor mill is Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley, but with three well-known men in the race, including a former Congressman and two state lawmakers, it would be tough for her.
🟠 In CA-12, the opposite is true: BART Director Lateefah Simon, a disability rights activist who is legally blind, has announced her candidacy and appears to have cleared the field. She was one of WomenCount’s 2020 Shirley’s List alumnae.
🟠 In MI-7, the field of potential candidates skews male. Momentum is coalescing around Lansing Mayor Andy Schor, but Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum is also considering. Unfortunately, Republican Tom Barnett, who almost beat Elissa last year, has already said he will run again.
And we just got some especially awful news a few days ago: Disgraced former Gov. Andrew Cuomo is considering primarying Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in New York, which would be the biggest threat to her re-election in a decade (that’s why we just added her to our Senate slate).
And stay tuned for our first 2024 House slate once more women declare in these open seats.