Women GOP Candidates, Update

Shira Toeplitz of Roll Call has a good piece up about House Republicans' failure to recruit female candidates, which gives me the excuse I've been looking for to blog some more about one of my favorite pet topics, the extinction of the elected female Republican.

As Toeplitz points out, there are quite a number of women running as Republicans, but mostly as also-rans or in hopeless races against safe incumbent Democrats. In serious opportunities for a Republican to get elected -- particularly in the districts where Republican incumbents are leaving open seats.

By my count there are 12 districts where a Republican is leaving an open seat that is considered a pretty sure win for the GOP. Of those 12, only 4 have a woman running in the GOP primary at this point, all but one of whom look like single-digit also-rans -- and that one, Robin Smith of Tennessee, is an underdog (and kinda crazy).

There are another 9 districts with open seats (6 with Dems leaving, 3 GOP) that are considered "lean" or "likely" Republican by the Cook Political Report. There are women running in GOP primaries in 5 of those 9 -- all of whom range from long-shots to also-rans. 

Another 8 districts with open seats (including MA-10, where Bill Delahunt is retiring) are considered toss-ups by Cook. Only four have had women enter the GOP primary; one, in Illinois, has already lost. The one major candidate -- probably the most likely Republican woman to win a House seat this year -- is Jaime Herrera, who Toeplitz quotes in her piece. The other two appear unlikely, including Jennifer Horn in New Hampshire.

The candidate I had previously thought had the best chance is Martha Roby of Alabama; she is still in pretty strong position to win her primary, but recent polling suggests that the Democratic incumbent, Bobby Bright, is not as vulnerable as suspected -- Cook has moved this race to "Lean Democrat."

But to sum up: of the 29 districts most likely to produce a new Republican member of Congress, only 1 appears likely to have a woman GOP nominee. (BTW, I'm including in this overview seats to be determined by special election, such as for John Murtha in Pennsylvania.)

If they are going to make any additional gains, it will have to be in districts where the woman not only must win the GOP primary, but win over a favored incumbent Democrat.

Bear in mind that the party starts with just 16 incumbent women running for re-election (17 minus Mary Fallon, who is running for governor) out of their 177 House members. A Herrera win -- and remember, she's in a toss-up district, so that's no sure thing at all -- only gets them back to 17, presumably out of a higher total. Depending on how the election goes, Republicans figure to hold at least 190 seats, and perhaps many more.

I have a lot to update on GOP women's chances in US Senate and governor races, where the prospects have also not been improving much. I'll try to blog on that soon.

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