Archive for May, 2018

Women Make History In Pennsylvania Primaries, Look Ahead To November

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on May 25th, 2018 by admin – Be the first to comment

  MAY 25, 2018

In November, women will be on the ballot in eight of Pennsylvania’s congressional districts—a record-breaking number for the commonwealth. The candidates claimed multiple victories in the May 15 primary.

Reporters MJ Slaby of The Incline and Lindsay Lazarski of WHYY weigh in on the increasing number of women candidates and primary winners. Dana Brown, executive director of the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics, joins the discussion as well.

Listen to the discussion at

PA Women Poised to Make History in Congressional Delegation After Primary Victories

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on May 21st, 2018 by admin – Be the first to comment

KEYSTONE CROSSROADS – Eight women running for congress in Pennsylvania advanced to the general election ballot on Tuesday, setting a record for the state.

For the past few years, only men have been in Pennsylvania’s 18 member congressional delegation in Washington, D.C.  But after Tuesday’s primary, that’s almost guaranteed to change in 2019.

In its history, Pennsylvania has only elected seven women to the U.S. House of Representatives — ever. Three of those women won special elections to fill vacancies left by their husbands.

No woman in Pennsylvania has ever been elected to the U.S. Senate, or to the Governor’s office.

“This is more than a little overwhelming,” said Mary Gay Scanlon, a Democrat, in her victory speech on Tuesday night. She’s running in the newly drawn 5th congressional district comprised of mostly Delaware County and parts of South Philadelphia.

Scanlon recounted a story from the 2016 election in her speech.

“A year and a half ago, my daughter and I donned pantsuits to go to the polls and vote for what we hoped would be the first woman president — a celebration we believed was long overdue,” said Scanlon. “And, like most of you, we were shocked by the election to our country’s highest office of a man who had no record or seeming inclination for public service.”

Scanlon, an attorney who leads the pro-bono program at Philadelphia’s Ballard Spahr law firm, beat out a crowded primary field that included five other women. Her only experience in public office was on Delaware County’s Wallingford-Swarthmore School Board.

In November, she’ll face Pearl Kim, a former special victims prosecutor in Delaware County, and the only Republican woman congressional candidate on the ballot in the state.

Having two women go head-to-head in a congressional race is a first for Pennsylvania, and Scanlon says she’s thrilled.

“We’ve made it possible for this new district for the first time to be represented by a Democrat in congress and to be represented by a woman in congress,” she said.

Kim did not return requests for comment.

Why so low?

To understand why Pennsylvania currently lacks women representatives in Congress, you may only have to look at the state’s lower-level offices.

Pennsylvania’s three row offices — Treasurer, Attorney General and Auditor General — are each currently occupied by men.

And in the current legislative session of the General Assembly, women make up 14 percent of members in the State Senate and about 20 percent in the State House. Nationally, that puts Pennsylvania 38th among states when it comes to women in state legislatures.

Dr. Jennie Sweet-Cushman, assistant director of the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics, says this matters.

Typically, Sweet-Cushman says, women feel they need to get their feet wet in politics and work their way up before jumping into a congressional race.


Was There a Pink Wave in Pennsylvania?

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on May 17th, 2018 by admin – Be the first to comment

How Pennsylvania women did in the 2018 primary — and what that means for November

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on May 17th, 2018 by admin – Be the first to comment

In a record year for women running for office, the primary victories of state rep. hopefuls like Sara Innamorato and Summer Lee were part of a larger wave of women advancing from the primary to the General Election across Pennsylvania.

In November, the number of women candidates on ballots for the Pa. General Assembly will have doubled since 2016, in a state criticized for its lack of women lawmakers. Pennsylvania was one of four states to get an “F” ranking in female political representation for 2018 from Representation 2020 Project, a national organization aiding female political candidates.

But that could be getting better.

In the 2016 election, roughly 87 percent of women running for general assembly advanced to the general election, said Jennie Sweet-Cushman, assistant director of Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University. This year, it was 89 percent.

While the percentages stayed about the same, you can see the change in the number of candidates, she said: 65 advanced in 2016 and 118 will go forward this year.

However, those 118 women make up just 32 percent of Tuesday’s winners, Sweet-Cushman noted, meaning a majority of winners were men.

Similar to past years, there were many uncontested general assembly primaries, but places with challengers — like the 21st and 34th Districts in Allegheny County — saw interesting dynamics and heated contests, she said.

More than just the number of women running, there’s reason to believe that this year’s candidates might do better than in the past in November, since there are more women incumbents and better trained candidates, Sweet-Cushman said.

The bipartisan center at Chatham has a training program called Ready to Run, and 14 of its 20 graduates won Tuesday in general assembly and U.S. Congressional races, she said. For Emerge, a training program for Democratic women, 17 of 20 graduates won, per the organization’s Twitter.

In the past, women’s candidacies started in different ways than they seemed to this year, Sweet-Cushman said. Women candidates were previously seen as “sacrificial lamb” candidates by both parties, which knew the candidate wouldn’t win her race but wanted to show they were supportive of women running.

This time, it seemed that women were running because they wanted to and did so with party backing, grassroots backing or neither, she said. Sweet-Cushman has previously noted the influence of the 2016 presidential election on women candidates, especially when it comes to running for state and national office.

“The pieces came together, and these are not lambs. They’re really strong candidates,” she said. “If that’s a trend, that’s a good sign.”

Pa. women in Congress

The Pa. Congressional delegation has 20 members and no women, making it the largest state without a female member, HuffPost reported.

But that’s going to change in 2018.

Eight women candidates — seven Democrats and one Republican — emerged from the primaries for U.S. House, and that’s “undoubtedly” the largest number of women to make it to the general election for U.S. Congress, Sweet-Cushman said.

She added that a lot of the success is attributed to the candidates being Democrats running in new districts that were redrawn to eliminate a GOP advantage.

In the 5th Congressional District, in southeastern Pa., two women will compete in November, meaning there will be at least one woman from Pa. in the U.S. House next year, she said, adding that women candidates in the 4th, 6th and 7th districts (all in the eastern part of the state) also have a good chance at winning in November.

Locally, Bibiana Boerio won a four-way Democratic Primary to face Republican Guy Reschenthaler in District 14. Janis Brooks lost her fourth attempt to beat current U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle in District 18.

In the race for U.S. Senate, no women were on the ballot. Republican Laura Ellsworth lost her bid for governor and none of the five women — three Republicans and two Democrats — competing for lieutenant governor advanced.



Pennsylvania fields historic slate of women congressional candidates

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on May 16th, 2018 by admin – Be the first to comment

  | WednesdayMay 16, 2018, 5:15 p.m.

Pennsylvania, a state that experts call ground zero in the Democratic Party’s battle to regain control of Washington, D.C., will see an unprecedented field of eight women seeking congressional seats on the November ballot.

The election guarantees that Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation — a boy’s club since the 2014 exit of Allyson Schwartz — will have at least one, if not more, female voices.

In suburban Philadelphia’s 5th Congressional District, Democrat Mary Gay Scanlon faces Republican Pearl Kim.

Closer to home, Democrat Bibiana Boerio, 64, a retired Ford Motor Co. executive and one-time chief of staff to former U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, will face Republican state Sen. Guy Reschenthaler, 35, in the new 14th Congressional District. And Democrat Susan Boser, 61, an Indiana University of Pennsylvania professor, will face five-term incumbent Republican Glenn Thompson, 58, of Centre County in the new 15th District.

Boerio, of Unity, easily beat three men in the district that includes Greene, Fayette, Washington and part of Westmoreland County. She agreed to run when approached by several groups after volunteering in the special election that ushered Democrat Conor Lamb to office in the old 18th District.

She said the number of female candidates is a reflection of the time. Pennsylvanians saw a of number of congressional vacancies after the state Supreme Court redrew district lines at a time when grass-roots movements emerged around various issues.

“To me, it’s a period of time where women are starting to understand they have a voice. And it’s important as we look at the state that we think about inclusion and everyone having a voice. One aspect of that is gender representation,” Boerio said.

Boser, a first-time candidate, easily defeated opponent Wade Jodun. She said she was spurred to get involved by the Women’s March on Washington, D.C., held in the wake of President Trump’s inauguration in January 2017.

“It was energizing for a lot of women,” Boser said. “Women’s Huddles have emerged in a lot of counties. I am a product of that. … I saw a lot grass-roots organizing. #MeToo, the March for Our Lives and Black Lives Matter were three factors I saw.”

Those movements created grass-roots energy around female candidates, said Jennie Sweet-Cushman, assistant director of the Chatham University Center for Women in Politics.

“I think that translated into better candidates and better campaigns,” she said. “In the past when we saw women on congressional tickets, they were sacrificial lambs.”

The momentum behind women candidates carried over to statehouse races in Western Pennsylvania. In eastern Allegheny County, first-time candidates Summer Lee and Sara Innamorato — both of whom identified as Democratic Socialists — beat incumbent mainstream Democrats Paul Costa and his cousin Dom Costa in primary races on Tuesday.

Pollster and political scientist Terry Madonna, of Franklin and Marshall College, noted that most of the female congressional candidates in Pennsylvania were Democrats. He thinks an anti-Trump sentiment coupled with the various movements played a role in that.

“If you take away the four incumbent Democratic congressmen, that leaves 14 seats — and half of the Democrats running for them are women,” he said.

Other Democratic women running for Congress this fall include state Rep. Madeleine Dean in the 4th District in Montgomery and Berks counties; Allentown attorney Susan Wild in the 7th district in the Lehigh Valley; Chrissy Houlahan in the 6th District, covering Chester County; and Jessica King in the 11th District in Lancaster County.

In Northwestern Pennsylvania, Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper was thrilled to watch election returns come in Tuesday night.

“I am still only the seventh woman to have served in Congress from Pennsylvania, and that is deplorable,” said Dahlkemper, who served in Washington from 2009-11. “A lot of it Tuesday was due to women getting up and running. Women were able to find the support, get up and run and then win. We know that women win as often as men when they put their names on the ballot.”