The dozen races WeNews is following--both on the hustings and post-Election Day--span the country in a year that is witnessing a bumper crop of female candidates. Races have been selected on one of three grounds. Either a woman is challenging a historic gender barrier, the race's outcome could affect overall female representation, or the issue of women's reproductive choices is key.
These races include one for governor in New Hampshire; four U.S. Senate races, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Missouri and Wisconsin; and seven seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, New York and Utah. We may make some last minute additions as certain races heat up.
Mazie Hirono (D) vs. Linda Lingle (R) (open seat)
Two pro-choice women are vying here, with Lingle seen as the potential heir to Maine's Olympia Snowe, the GOP's retiring longtime female moderate.
House of Reps, 11th district
Incumbent Judy Biggert (R) vs. Bill Foster (D)
Biggert has long been known as a social moderate but NARAL Pro-Choice America backs Foster as more solidly pro-choice. Redistricting works against Biggert.
House of Reps, 2nd district
Jackie Walorski (R) vs. Brendan Mullen (D) (open seat)
Walorski, while in the Indiana House, thwarted a bill to protect the LGBT population by adding an amendment defining abortion as a hate crime. State funding of Planned Parenthood is under contention in this swing state.
House of Reps, 5th district
Incumbent Steve King (R) vs. Christie Vilsack (D)
The state is one of three that have never sent a woman to Congress (Iowa, Vermont and Mississippi). Vilsack, the challenger, has the best chance to take the list down to two.
Incumbent Scott Brown (R) vs. Elizabeth Warren (D)
Incumbent Brown prides himself on being a pro-choice Republican rarity but Warren says he won't worry about the fate of Roe v. Wade if it goes to the Supreme Court, and NARAL agrees.
U.S. House of Reps, 6th district
Incumbent Michele Bachmann (R) vs. Jim Graves (D)
Bachmann has been helped by redistricting and has a winning reputation that many expect her to keep in a race she isn't taking for granted.
Incumbent Claire McCaskill (D) vs. Todd Akin (R)
If Akin wins, despite his "legitimate rape" comment and consistent stands against women's reproductive health laws, he'll demonstrate that candidates can make outrageous comments about rape and survive national scandal.
Maggie Hassan (D) vs. Ovide Lamontagne (R)
Of the country's six female governors, two (Bev Purdue in N.C. and Washington State's Christine Gregoire) are retiring. Hassan is the only hope that list will be five, rather than four, after November. A close race in a swing state.
Hassan Sole U.S. Woman Running for Governor
U.S. House of Reps, 24th district
Incumbent Ann Marie Buerkle (R) vs. Dan Maffei (D) and Green Party challenger Ursula Rozum
Buerkle has been an anti-choice activist since at least the 1980s Operation Rescue in Buffalo, N.Y.
U.S. House of Reps, 25th district
Incumbent Louise Slaughter (D) vs. Maggie Brooks (R)
Slaughter, 82, seeks a 14th term and faces her first serious challenge since 1986 in this close race.
U.S. House of Reps, 4th district
Incumbent Jim Matheson (D) vs. Mia Bourdeau Love (R)
Love could be the first African American Republican woman in Congress.
Tammy Baldwin (D) vs. Tommy Thompson (R) (open seat)
Baldwin could be the first lesbian in the Senate if she wins this swing-state race against Thompson, an architect of Clinton-era changes to federal welfare law.
Center for American Women and Politics:
2012 Election Tracker spotlights women running for Congress and state legislatures
Interactive map of women in elected office
2012 Project: Aims for 20 percent female representation in Congress
A work-in-progress looking at abortion laws; author is adding states in the run-up to Nov. 6.
Naral Pro-Choice America
Interactive map of candidates' stance on choice
Who's getting the pro-choice endorsements