WFW (Winning for Women) Action Fund, which raises money to
support female Republican candidates for Congress, is announcing
a goal of electing 20 Republican women to the House of
Representatives next year.
There are 13 Republican women serving in the House now, down
from 23 in the previous Congress and the smallest number since
1995. Democrats have 89 female representatives after a record
number of women ran for office in 2018, many of them motivated
by a dislike of President Donald Trump.
"Our numbers are so low, it's become appalling," said Olivia
Perez-Cubas, spokeswoman for the WFW Action Fund.
The fund will ramp up recruitment efforts and offer more
financial support to help women get through primaries, where
they sometimes struggle against men who are viewed as more
conservative by the party's base.
Some party activists report a high level of early interest from
Republican women thinking about throwing their hats in the ring
for Congress in 2020.
Julie Conway, executive director of VIEW PAC (Value in Electing
Women Political Action Committee), another group that supports
Republican women candidates, said she has already met with as
many as 85 women considering a bid.
"At this point in the 2017 cycle, it probably would have been a
third of that," Conway said, noting many of the women are
looking to run in the competitive swing seats Republicans lost
when Democrats seized control of the House in the mid-term
elections last year.
The National Republican Congressional Committee, the party's
official congressional campaign arm, has engaged with 172 women
interested in running, and 50 have filed papers to run,
spokesman Michael McAdams said.
Republicans suffered a setback last week when Representative
Susan Brooks, who heads NRCC recruiting efforts, announced she
would take herself out of the re-election game by retiring from
Congress next year.
Democrats pounced on the news about the Indiana lawmaker.
Representative Cheri Bustos, chairwoman of the Democratic
Congressional Campaign Committee, said it underscored the
problem Republicans had created "in a party whose leadership
continually marginalizes womenís voices."
The disparity between the number of Republican and Democratic
female lawmakers has never been greater, said Debbie Walsh,
director of the Center for American Women and Politics at
"You are talking about a situation where of the 127 women who
serve in Congress, House and Senate, 106 are Democrats and 21
are Republicans. That's the biggest difference we've ever seen,"
Republican women lag far behind in financial resources compared
to their Democratic counterparts. Organizations such as Emily's
List spent $24.4 million last year to back female House
Democratic candidates who support abortion rights.
By contrast, VIEW PAC says it has directly contributed and
helped raise over $6.5 million for Republican women candidates
since it began operating more than 20 years ago.
Republican women in 2020 may also have to grapple with a voter
backlash to new laws in some states restricting abortion and
could find it difficult to disentangle their candidacies from
the impact of Trump's rhetoric and policies, Walsh said.
"Womenís underrepresentation (in Congress) has been a problem
within the Republican party for a while, but I think Donald
Trumpís presidency has only exacerbated that situation," Walsh
In the near term, Republican women activists are hoping their
preferred candidate prevails in a special election in North
Carolina's third congressional district, to replace long-time
Republican Representative Walter Jones who died in February.
The July 9 Republican primary runoff pits pediatrician Joan
Perry, who has never before run for political office, against
state lawmaker Greg Murphy.
All 13 Republican women in the U.S. House have endorsed Perry.
The WFW Action Fund has spent almost half a million dollars on
advertising on her behalf, and Women Speak Out PAC, linked to
the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List, has spent $75,000
However, the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus,
Republican Representative Mark Meadows, has endorsed Murphy,
saying he has done more to advance conservative policy.
Perry agrees more Republican women are needed in Congress. But
she is urging voters to elect her for her conservative stances,
including her opposition to abortion and support for Trump's
wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.
"I am running for whom I am, and the values that I embrace," she
(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and
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