In 2018, Pennsylvania women are remixing 1992

Pennsylvania is finally poised to end its drought of women's congressional representation by January 2019: Tuesday's ...

Posted: May 17, 2018 10:29 AM
Updated: May 17, 2018 10:29 AM

Pennsylvania is finally poised to end its drought of women's congressional representation by January 2019: Tuesday's primaries elevated eight women as nominees for the US House in November. Among them are four women -- all Democrats -- running in districts favorable to their party. Perhaps most important, those districts constitute four of seven open seats in Pennsylvania's House races, and most of those seats are open as a result of the political shakeup created by the drawing of new electoral maps this year.

By way of comparison, a total of seven open seats in US House races were contested in Pennsylvania between 2008 and 2016. This year, seven seats are up for grabs in a single election cycle.

As in many other states across the country, Pennsylvania fielded a record number of female candidates for the US House this year, many of whom were energized to run to hold the line against the policies and politics of the current President. The likely expansion of women's representation in Pennsylvania shows a path to electoral success that may be hard to replicate nationwide in 2018, but is still instructive as we look ahead to 2020 and -- even more so -- 2022. That path to success combines energy with opportunity.

In 1992, when women nearly doubled their numbers in the US Congress, many women decided to run because they were frustrated with Washington's policies and politics -- including those who appeared to negatively affect or ignore women. In addition, watching Anita Hill testify at the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas starkly underscored the dearth of women in Congress and its impact on debates and decision-making. Female candidates channeled that energy effectively into a successful electoral strategy because 1992 also had an unusually high number of open seats in both the House and Senate. In a post-redistricting year, new district lines contributed to this rare level of opportunity.

As in 1992, women today are harnessing their political frustrations on the campaign trail. For example, when asked what made her run this year, the 6th District Democratic nominee in Pennsylvania, Chrissy Houlahan, explained, "I could not stand by and watch President Trump misrepresent our values while Congress stood aside." Mary Gay Scanlon, the Democratic nominee in Pennsylvania's 5th Congressional District, described her priority as "stopping the Trump agenda and its attack on our American values." But Scanlon also added that Pennsylvania's off-cycle redistricting created an opening for her to do this work as a member of Congress. Another candidate -- Shira Goodman -- told Philadelphia Magazine, "When the Pennsylvania Supreme Court threw out the gerrymandered congressional maps, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to take the next step in public service."

While the redrawing of Pennsylvania's district lines was not universally advantageous to women, it helped boost the competitiveness of women like Houlahan -- who had already made the decision to run. For other women, like state Rep. Madeleine Dean, the new map incentivized them to throw their hats in the ring. Dean, who won the Democratic nomination in the 4th Congressional District, called the creation of the new 4th District a "once in a lifetime opportunity to serve," and one that she could not pass up. For Dean, enthusiasm to make policy change met the opportunity of a winnable congressional seat. That may prove to be a formula for her success in November.

Nationwide, the number of open and/or competitive seats in 2018 appears to be inching up day by day. This may bode well for political newcomers, women included. But as we saw in last week's congressional primaries, women's energy is not combined with the same degree of political opportunity in all states this cycle. In states where a political shakeup is less likely this year, women's political energy must be sustained in the longer term so that when new lines are drawn and political opportunities arise, women are poised to take advantage of them.

That's what happened in Pennsylvania.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 34574

Reported Deaths: 2134
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion9853578
Lake3616190
Allen161869
Cass15877
Elkhart132228
St. Joseph127434
Hendricks116971
Hamilton115993
Johnson1105108
Madison58659
Porter53928
Bartholomew51135
Clark50441
LaPorte43323
Howard40828
Tippecanoe4023
Jackson3891
Delaware38537
Shelby37322
Hancock33827
Floyd31839
Boone31535
Morgan27724
Vanderburgh2742
Montgomery24117
White2358
Noble23221
Clinton2321
Decatur22431
Grant21122
Dubois1993
Harrison19422
Henry18211
Greene16924
Vigo1698
Dearborn16821
Monroe16612
Warrick16628
Lawrence16324
Miami1401
Putnam1377
Kosciusko1351
Jennings1304
Orange12822
Scott1203
Franklin1108
Ripley1096
Marshall1082
Carroll932
Daviess8816
Steuben832
Wayne825
LaGrange812
Wabash782
Newton7810
Fayette777
Jasper671
Washington521
Jay520
Clay511
Fulton491
Rush472
Randolph473
Pulaski460
Jefferson451
Whitley423
Starke393
DeKalb371
Sullivan361
Owen351
Brown331
Perry330
Wells320
Benton300
Huntington282
Knox280
Tipton251
Blackford252
Crawford240
Fountain212
Switzerland200
Spencer201
Parke180
Gibson172
Posey160
Adams151
Ohio130
Warren121
Martin110
Vermillion100
Union90
Pike60
Unassigned0167

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 120260

Reported Deaths: 5390
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook779253642
Lake8331291
DuPage7707373
Kane6338178
Will5566276
Winnebago225155
McHenry156672
St. Clair113782
Kankakee91045
Kendall79819
Rock Island65824
Champaign6407
Madison58060
Boone45217
DeKalb4164
Sangamon35129
Jackson28610
Randolph2704
Peoria2339
McLean22013
Ogle2063
Stephenson2062
Macon19319
Clinton18617
Union15411
LaSalle15313
Whiteside14013
Iroquois1324
Coles12715
Out of IL1181
Warren1170
Jefferson10116
Knox1000
Grundy982
Monroe9512
McDonough8811
Unassigned850
Lee811
Cass730
Tazewell735
Henry690
Williamson672
Pulaski560
Marion500
Jasper457
Macoupin452
Adams441
Perry410
Vermilion401
Montgomery391
Morgan361
Christian354
Livingston342
Jo Daviess320
Douglas280
Jersey241
Fayette213
Ford201
Menard200
Woodford192
Mason180
Washington180
Hancock170
Mercer170
Shelby161
Bureau151
Carroll152
Schuyler130
Bond121
Franklin120
Clark110
Crawford110
Fulton110
Moultrie110
Piatt110
Brown100
Cumberland100
Logan100
Wayne91
Alexander80
Henderson80
Johnson80
Effingham71
Massac70
Saline70
Greene50
Marshall50
De Witt40
Lawrence40
Richland30
Stark30
Clay20
Edwards20
Gallatin20
Hamilton20
Wabash20
White20
Calhoun10
Edgar10
Hardin10
Pike10
Pope10
Putnam10
Terre Haute
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Indianapolis
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A warm up on the way.
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