Chatham News

Pennsylvania Center for Women & Politics Releases Report: More Than 400 Women Running for Elective Office

PITTSBURGH—Pennsylvania has never elected a female governor, but in 2014 there are two women vying for the office in the Democratic Primary. These two women—Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-Montgomery County) and Katie McGinty, former Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection—join more than 400 other women in pursuing elective office in the state.

Of the 1143 candidates who have filed to run in the 2014 primary, 402 (35 percent) of them are women. Of this number, two (Schwartz and McGinty) have filed for their party’s nomination for Governor, 11 for U.S. House of Representatives (9D, 2R), 13 for State Senate (9D, 4R), and 81 for State House Representative (50D, 31R). These numbers represent 39 incumbents, four current or former officeholders seeking a new or higher office, and 64 new candidates. Another 144 and 151 women are seeking spots on the state’s Democratic and Republican State Committees, respectively. As is fairly typical nationwide, more women candidates for elective office affiliate with the Democratic Party (27 percent) than the Republican Party (16 percent) in the state.

Dana Brown, executive director of the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University explains that, “Pennsylvania has had historically-low levels of representation of women in government. Today, only 17.8 percent of the state legislature is women and there is only one woman serving as a statewide elected official and one in the congressional delegation.” According the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, the state ranks 38th in the nation for the percentage of women in the state legislature.

Ms. Brown states, “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.” The Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics (PCWP) supports women considering seeking elective office with the Ready to Run® Campaign Training For Women programs. Since 2012, the PCWP has hosted these campaign trainings in both Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, giving women the education, insights, and skills they need to embark on a successful campaign.

More than 250 women have participated in the Ready to Run® program in the three years the program has been offered by the PCWP. Additionally, the program has 23 alumnae who have filed to run in various offices in the 2014 primary election, including incumbent state legislators Rep. Erin Molchany (D-Pittsburgh) and Rep. Mary Jo Daley (D-Narberth). Eleven alums are running for state legislative positions and five are vying for a congressional seat. The remaining alumnae are getting a start in partisan politics by seeking a spot on their party’s state committee. Voters cast their ballots in this year’s primary elections on May 20th.

For more information about the PCWP at Chatham University or Ready to Run® Campaign Training for Women, please contact Dana Brown, Executive Director at 412-365-2725 or dbrown@chatham.edu.