Ready to Run: Why the GOP Needs More Women Running for Office

Over the past few months I’ve had the pleasure of traveling the country as one of the instructors in the RNC’s “Blackboard to Blacktop: Ready to Run” training sessions. During these day-long sessions, potential candidates heard from a variety of speakers on the topics that are essential to running for office: Fundraising, Grassroots, Communications, Social Media, etc.  These potential candidates were all women, and they were all Republicans. The RNC hosted these events in Rhode Island, New Jersey, Chicago, Denver, Seattle, Philadelphia and Atlanta.

I have felt extremely passionate about this topic —  namely, the dearth of women we have actively seeking elected office with an R next to their name — for quite a while. Especially after the 2008 election and again even after our victories across the country in 2010, it struck me that women had no reason to run, as nearly every conservative female candidate in recent memory has been eviscerated in popular culture, the media and even within the party.

I blame this partially on the “Sarah Palin” effect after the 2008 election, but also on longstanding double standards relating to females in politics. (See: Hillary Clinton vs. Barack Obama in 2008.)

Not only do we need more women at the table, but we must be recruiting and training the RIGHT women to run.

The R2R training group in Atlanta, GA listening to presenter Serenety Hanley on November 9, 2013.

The R2R training group in Atlanta, GA listening to presenter Serenety Hanley on November 9, 2013.

Nationally, Democrats are kicking our butts on this one — and its time to start paying attention. We’ve had our ears plugged and our eyes covered on this topic for too long, and we can’t keep living in denial, assuming that “the strongest candidates will emerge” from the electoral masses.

Women aren’t throwing their hats into local elections, partially because they aren’t being asked, or because the resources aren’t there to support female candidates who have decidedly different needs and concerns than men running for office. Research consistently shows that female candidates must be ASKED to run before they consider elected office. So, lets start asking!

I’m grateful that the national leadership recognizes this need, and is responding in kind. I hope to continue to see (and be involved with) more programs like these as they emerge across the country. It won’t happen overnight, or even swiftly.

 

The “Ready to Run” Seminar in Seattle listening to Secretary of State Kim Wyman on November 2, 2013

We have to continue to invest in nurturing future candidates for office, starting at the local level… and as a party decide that this is a future worth investing in.

The RSLC has started a great program, called “Right Women Right Now” which has pledged to recruit 300 new female GOP candidates this cycle. I’m excited to see what is in store for this program, and others like it… and to see what women do on their own, in their communities.

I was so encouraged meeting the dozens of women who came out to these RNC trainings the past few months. I hope we can continue this momentum and work together to inspire others to run for office as well.

 

 

In the next few days, I’ll explore what I found while speaking with and working with these potential candidates at these seminars across the country, including:

  • What keeps them from running at a significantly lower rate than men
  • Specific concerns about fundraising from a female perspective
  • Areas of improvement for female GOP recruiting

 


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