January 16, 2014 — Several news developments this week highlight the role of women in state and national politics. Summaries appear below.
Report: Less Than One in Four State Legislators are Women
Just under one-fourth of all state legislators are women, a statistic that has not changed in the past five years, according to a National Conference of State Legislatures report, the Washington Post's "GovBeat" reports.
According to the report, there are 1,783 female state lawmakers, compared with 5,600 men. States with the highest proportion of female lawmakers include Vermont and Colorado, where women make up 41% of each legislature, and Arizona and Minnesota, where women make up 36% and 34% of the legislatures, respectively.
States with the lowest proportion of women in their legislatures include Alabama, Louisiana, Oklahoma and South Carolina. In each of those states, less than 15% of lawmakers are women (Chokshi, "GovBeat," Washington Post, 1/14).
Millions Raised in Texas Gubernatorial Race
Meanwhile, in the Texas gubernatorial race, state Sen. Wendy Davis (D) on Tuesday reported raising more than $12.2 million in the last six months of 2013 for her campaign, Politico reports.
Davis launched her campaign after drawing national attention for a filibuster that temporarily derailed an antiabortion-rights bill (HB 2). She faces "an uphill battle" to the governorship in the "deep-red" state, where statewide campaigns are "astronomically expensive," according to Politico. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) is seeking the Republican nomination. Rebecca Acuña, a spokesperson for Davis, said the fundraising figures place Davis "way past the credibility threshold." She said, "They are huge, huge numbers showing there is so much support and momentum for her race" (Glueck, Politico, 1/15). The campaign said the funds came from 71,843 contributors, with about 85% of contributions being $50 or less (Tomlinson, AP/Sacramento Bee, 1/14).
Abbott's campaign raised $11.5 million in the same period, with 97% of contributions coming from within the state, according to Abbott spokesperson Avdiel Huerta. He added that Abbott has $27 million in cash on hand (Politico, 1/15).
GOP PAC Targets Young Female Voters, Candidates
In other political news, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) on Tuesday helped debut a new Republican political action committee -- RightNOW Women PAC -- aimed at recruiting more young female voters and candidates to the party, Politico reports.
Marlene Colucci, a former aide to President George W. Bush, created the PAC to address what she saw as a critical disconnect between the GOP and female voters. Colucci and Brittany Thune -- daughter of Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) -- hope the PAC can create a "low-fund, high-involvement" movement that appeals to young people.
While delivering the launch event's keynote address, Ayotte called the PAC "Democrats' worst nightmare." House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) also spoke at the event.
Nearly 400 people, mostly women ages 24 to 35 attended the event, which charged a $20 entrance fee (Drusch, Politico, 1/15).