A Record Number of Women Are Running in Governor’s Races

As we approach the 2018 midterm elections, all eyes will be focused on whether the Democrats can win a majority in either the House or the Senate. While that will be fascinating to watch, I’ll be keeping a close eye on governor’s races. That’s because, as I wrote previously, they will play a huge role in the redistricting process that will take place after the 2020 census.

It is very likely that the Democratic goal of not only winning a majority in the House, but also in state legislatures,  will be a process that spans out over several election cycles. Removing the barriers of gerrymandering will play a critical role in giving Democrats an even playing field for that to happen.

Karen Tumulty has provided us with some interesting information on those governor’s races.

This year, at least 79 women — 49 Democrats and 30 Republicans — are running for governor or seriously considering it as filing deadlines approach, according to a tally by the Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers University.

The numbers are more than double what they were four years ago and on track to surpass the record 34 women who ran for governor in 1994.

Tumulty goes on to profile Democrat Gretchen Whitmer, who is running to be governor of Michigan. But then she hits on a special challenge that all of these women face.

Their candidacies are testing long-held attitudes about women and leadership. Voters tended to see women as “well suited for legislatures, where it’s collaborative,” said Debbie Walsh, director of the center. “It runs up against the stereotype to see women as the chief decider, the place where the buck stops.”…

The small number of female governors currently in office reflects the additional hurdles faced by women seeking a state’s executive office, advocates for more female representation said.

“When a woman is running to be the CEO of her state, our research shows that voters need more evidence to believe that she is prepared to do the job than it takes for them to believe that of a man,” said Barbara Lee, a liberal philanthropist whose family foundation promotes women in politics. “People have become more comfortable with a woman at the table. They’re still not as comfortable having a woman in charge.”

That is certainly one of the barriers Hillary Clinton faced in 2016, and it will take some time for voters to become accustomed to the idea of having a woman in charge. But if ever there was a moment when that could happen, this is it.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60 .