EMILY’s List President Says GOP Primaries Stagnating Female Ranks

Posted October 8, 2010 at 7:13pm

Congress could see a decrease in women Members for the first time in 30 years next year and EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock contends it is partially due to the number of Republican women unable to make it through conservative primaries.

In an interview for C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” program, set to air Sunday, Schriock said she is concerned about the possibility of fewer women in general being elected to Congress, despite a record number of women running this year.

“At EMILY’s List we worked hard for 25 years to try to make sure every year is the year of the woman,” Schriock said. The organization supports pro-abortion rights Democratic women running for office at all levels.

“But what we’ve seen is a number of Republican women who ran but did not make it through their primaries,” she continued. “And that is something to be said about what is going on in the Republican Party, and how very conservative the nominees of the Republican Party have become to get through those primaries. And that’s where we lost a lot of Republican women.”

While more Republican women are running for Congress this cycle than in past elections, two-thirds (81 out of 128 who filed) running for the House lost in the primaries. Fewer than one-third of Democratic women running for the House lost their primaries.

On top of that, five of the 10 most vulnerable incumbents at this point are freshman Democratic women. And there are more Democratic women beyond that at risk of losing their seats this year.

In describing the importance of having women in the House and Senate, Schriock brought up an exchange between Arizona Republican Jon Kyl and Michigan Democrat Debbie Stabenow during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on the health care reform bill.

Kyl said he didn’t need maternity care, and that requiring it on his policy would make it more expensive. Stabenow replied, “I think your mom probably did.”

“That’s what it means to have women on the floor of the Senate and the floor of the House,” Schriock said. “Without that perspective, the policies we are adopting and we are passing are going to not represent the population.”

Schriock derided the Citizens United decision and the effect it’s had on this election cycle — especially on interest groups such as EMILY’s List, which relies largely on checks from small donors.

“Let’s face it,” she said. “We do not have the same kind of resources as these very, very large corporations. We just don’t, particularly in this economic environment.”

EMILY’s List has kicked off a new ad campaign titled “Boehner’s America,” which focuses on the ramifications of House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) becoming Speaker.

“It is a really, really serious choice that American voters are faced with, and it is: What does it mean if John Boehner becomes Speaker and this group of fairly extreme, right wing, Republican candidates win.”