Election 2018 marked the Year of the Woman in Pennsylvania

By Sarah Anne Hughes

The “Year of the Woman” has returned to Pennsylvania.

It happened first in 1992, when a record number of female candidates ran for office and won in reaction to Clarence Thomas’ Supreme Court nomination and the Anita Hill hearings. Over the next quarter century, the number of women in Congress and state legislatures continued to grow — but a considerable gender gap has remained.

On Nov. 6, with a record number of women on the ballot, that gap significantly narrowed in Pennsylvania.

The commonwealth will send four Democratic women to Congress next year, all from the Philadelphia suburbs: Madeleine Dean (District 4), Mary Gay Scanlon (District 5), Chrissy Houlahan (District 6), and Susan Wild (District 7).

Never before has Pennsylvania sent that many women to the U.S. House at the same time. There are currently zero women in the state’s congressional delegation.

Numbers don’t get much better in the state General Assembly, where just 49 of the 253 members are women. But representation will improve in both chambers next year.

Five female state senators won re-election, while five female non-incumbents definitively won their races, including Lindsey Williams in Allegheny County. As of Wednesday afternoon, Democratic Rep. Tina Davis was trailing Republican Sen. Tommy Tomlinson by a slim margin in the 6th District.

That means at least 12 women will serve in the Pa. Senate next year, up from seven.

Democratic women weren’t the only ones who made gains in Pennsylvania.

Eight Republican women who aren’t incumbents won state House seats, including three that Democrats hoped to pick up in the Pittsburgh suburbs. Republicans Lori Mizgorski (30th District), Natalie Mihalek (40th District), and Valerie Gaydos (44th District) each bested a female opponent and are now bound for Harrisburg.

And while female Democrats running for House seats in Southwestern Pa. did not win, they fared “pretty darn well” in traditionally Republican areas, according to Jennie Sweet-Cushman, assistant director of Chatham University’s Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics.

Read more at The Incline

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