North Texas Daily

As midterms loom, women look for more representation

As midterms loom, women look for more representation

As midterms loom, women look for more representation
October 18
00:55 2018

This November, candidates across the U.S. will be vying for one-third of the U.S. Senate seats, all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, 36 state governor roles and three U.S. territorial governor roles, as well as local positions. There has been an increase in the number of women running for office this year, dubbed by some as the “Pink Wave,” and after the primaries in March, many of those women have secured nomination.

There are more than 180 female candidates who are not incumbents on the ballot for the midterm elections. Several of those women are favored to win, while many more have competitive races ahead of them. 

This trend extends to the women of Texas as well, where we see a noticeable rise in female candidacy, including a race for governor by Democrat Lupe Valdez.

“It’s incredibly exciting,” said Linsey Fagan, a Democratic candidate for Texas’ 26th Congressional District. “I’m excited to see a diverse group of women running. We know in many ways the deck is stacked against us, so we have to work really closely with each other because we have a lot more obstacles.”

At one point, Texas was expected to lead the nation in closing the gender gap in governmental representation. In 1990 under the late Governor Ann Richards, the number of women in Texas legislature began to escalate and the women in mayoral positions was at an all-time high, according to the Houston Chronicle. That year, more than half of major cities in Texas had women at the helm, including the first female-elect mayor in Houston.

The progression stifled and then backtracked, leaving Texan women in 2018 with the lowest representation in 15 years, according to the Texas Tribune. Presently, only one major city, Fort Worth, has a woman in the mayor’s office. Women make up 50.3 percent of the population in the state of Texas, according to the 2017 Census.

Infographic Isabel Anes

However, men currently comprise 81.7 percent of the Texas House, 74.2 percent of the Texas Senate and 89 percent of the executive branch, according to the Tribune. Excluding the Board of Education and judicial positions, there is only one woman, Christi Craddick, holding a state executive position as the Railroad Commissioner.

Following the primary elections, 105 women are in the race for congressional, state and legislative positions in Texas.

“I feel like women are stepping up and wanting their voice to be heard,” political science senior Misaki Collins said. 

Collins said she hopes to one day run for office herself and is currently involved in UNT’s chapter of IGNITE, an organization of young women across the nation who want to become political leaders. 

“It’s empowering to them and it’s empowering to me.”

Women currently hold 29 out of the 150 positions in the Texas House of Representatives. Twenty-five seats are slated to be held by a woman because the candidates are either running unopposed or against another woman, and 84 are being campaigned for by men only, leaving 42 positions with the potential for a female candidate. Many female candidates, however, are new to politics and are running in challenger races.

UNT journalism professor Newly Paul said this puts them at a disadvantage because the current seat-holder might have some difficulties in fundraising, their incumbent might be better known by voters and the new candidate has to work harder to ensure she is competitive against the incumbent.

“People who are running as challengers generally face an uphill battle, and that’s what is happening with a lot of the women candidates,” Paul said. “We should be optimistic they are running, but at the same time, we should be realistic that challenger races are very tough.”

Paul said that while the gender gap is not going to change substantially based on this one election, the fact that more women are becoming involved in politics is a step in the direction of equal representation.

“You can’t change politics and you can’t change representation in one year or two years,” Paul said. “It takes time to make these changes.”

Featured Image: Linsey Fagan shares who she voted for in the 2016 presidential election during the TX-26 Congressional Debate. Fagan was asked who she voted for and why. Rachel Walters

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Madison Wilie

Madison Wilie

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