In the 2014 primary, 1,143 candidates have filed to run. 402 of these candidates are women, or 35 percent. Gubernatorial candidates Rep. Allyson Schwartz and Katie McGinty count themselves among that percentage as two female candidates running for state governor in a state that has never elected a female governor.
In the U.S. House of Representatives, 11 women are vying for seats, with an additional 13 running in the State Senate and 81 running for the State House of Representatives. Among these numbers are 39 incumbents, four current or former office holders seeking a different or higher office, and 64 new candidates. 27% of female candidates associate with the Democratic party and 16% with Republicans, with Democratic-leaning females being fairly common across the country.
The Commonwealth has always had a bit of a shady reputation when it comes to electing women as government representatives. According to Dana Brown, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University, only 17.8% of the state legislature are female representatives. She also noted that there is only one woman serving in a statewide elected position (Attorney General Kathleen Kane) and one in the Congressional delegation (Schwartz).
Perhaps depressingly, the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University ranks Pennsylvania as the 38th state in the nation for the percentage of women in the state legislature. Compared to the Commonwealth’s 17.8%, Colorado tops the list with 41.0% and Louisiana rounds out the bottom with 11.8%.
Brown added, “Research shows that when women run, they win at the same rates as men. Thus, if the state is going to increase the number of women holding public office, it needs more women candidates.”
Setting out to do just that, the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics encourages women wanting to seek office with the Ready to Run Campaign Training for Women programs. In the three years the program has existed, over 250 women have participated.
Additionally, Ready to Run has 23 alumnae who have filed to run in various offices for the 2014 primary election. These include familiar names such as Rep. Erin Molchany (D-Pittsburgh) and Rep. Mary Jo Daley (D-Narberth). Of these 23, 11 are running for state legislative positions, five for Congressional seats, and the remaining seven women are choosing to get their toes wet with partisan politics through seeking a spot on their party’s state committee.