By Samantha Kimmey
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
GOP women are poised for gains in Congress in 2012, either by leaps or baby steps. ShePAC is optimistic, despite Jean Schmidt's March 6 upset in Ohio. Judy Biggert's race to keep her seat in Illinois is a lynchpin race.
(Women's eNews)-- The first primary of the season, on March 6 in Ohio, was a disappointment for GOP-women-spotting. Incumbent Rep. Jean Schmidt lost.
Suzanne Terrell, co-chair of ShePAC, a new super PAC supporting Republican women, isn't fazed. "I think there is a good chance that we'll elect four new women [to the Senate]. I think that we will be electing new women to the House."
Those Senate hopefuls, Terrell says, are Linda Lingle of Hawaii, Heather Wilson from New Mexico, Sarah Steelman from Missouri and Deb Fischer from Nebraska.
If ShePAC meets its $25 million fundraising target, it could play a major role in influencing many of these elections.
Super PACs can raise unlimited sums to run political ads so long as they do not "coordinate" with candidates.
But ShePAC faces the formidable and unpredictable effects of other Super PACs.
The Campaign for Primary Accountability, for instance, which runs ads against incumbents, has been credited with knocking Schmidt out of her seat.
With only 29 Republican women in the U.S. House of Representatives, every win, loss and resignation can change the stakes. Women are only 17 percent of Congress and GOP women are a minority--just 30 percent--of that minority in the U.S. House.
This year, close to 100 Republican women will run in congressional primaries for House and Senate seats. That's a good show of force, historically speaking, albeit a backtrack from the stormy 2010 midterm elections, when a record 145 Republican women sought their party's nomination, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J. In 2008, 71 Republican women ran.
When the votes were counted in the last election cycle, all the campaign bluster boiled pretty low; just 35 percent won their party's nomination.
That left Republican women stuck in the role of little sister to the Democrats. Of the 153 Democratic women who filed to run for office, 99, or about 65 percent, won their primaries.