Go to HHH home page.
Smart Politics
 


Will the Number of Female US Senators Drop After 2014?

Bookmark and Share

The number of women in the chamber has remained stable or increased in every cycle since the late 1970s

kayhagan10.jpgWith Republican U.S. Representative Shelley Moore Capito and Democratic Secretary of State Natalie Tennant easily winning their West Virginia U.S. Senate primaries as expected Tuesday, the stage is set for at least one new female U.S. Senator to be sworn into the 114th Congress next year.

But will there be more women in the Senate overall?

A record 20 women now serve in the nation's upper legislative chamber - a number that has been slowly on the rise for the last quarter-century.

However, in a cycle in which the number of vulnerable female incumbents might outpace the number of newly-elected women, the U.S. Senate might see its first downturn in female Senators for the first time in decades.

On the one hand, none of the 20 women currently serving in the chamber are among the seven who are retiring or resigning at the end of the year.

Add to that only four female Senators are up for election this cycle: Republican Susan Collins of Maine and Democrats Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, and Kay Hagan of North Carolina (pictured).

Collins is expected to easily coast to a fourth term this November, and, if she should somehow stumble, her Democratic opponent is also a woman: Shenna Bellows, who served as the Executive Director of the ACLU in Maine for the last eight years.

However, none of the three Democratic seats occupied by women on the ballot in 2014 are safe, particularly those held by Landrieu and Hagan.

If two or more should fail in their reelection bids, then at least one other woman will need to join the winner of West Virginia's contest to ensure that the number of women in the chamber does not fall come January 2015.

For it has been decades since the U.S. Senate saw a decline in its female membership.

Since the 96th Congress convened in 1979, each cycle has seen the number of women in the chamber maintained or increased.

The chamber had two female U.S. Senators throughout the 1980s, doubling to four in the 102nd Congress (1991-1993), then seven in the 103rd (1993-1995), nine in the 104th (1995-1997), 14 in the 107th (2001-2003), 16 in the 110th (2007-2009), 17 in the 111th (2009-2011), and 20 today in the 113th.

The number of female Senators dropped from three to two from the 95th to 96th Congresses in 1979 after appointed Democrats Maryon Allen of Alabama and Muriel Humphrey of Minnesota lost their nomination and retired respectively and the only new member to join Republican Nancy Kassebaum of Kansas was Florida GOPer Paula Hawkins.

And where might women pick up another Senate seat to offset these possible losses in North Carolina and Louisiana?

It would be difficult to say another female challenger or candidate in an open seat race is a clear favorite to emerge as the victor in November of this year, though some will have a chance as many women will be major party nominees.

Most notably, female Democratic nominees in Kentucky and Georgia will emerge after primaries this coming Tuesday in those states - Alison Lundergan Grimes and Michelle Nunn respectively.

Nunn also has an outside chance of facing a female Republican nominee in the general election.

Secretary of State Karen Handel is in a tight race to make the run-off in Georgia's must-watch, highly competitive GOP field.

Female candidates also have a good chance to win the Republican nomination in several other states:

· Michigan: Former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land will face Democratic Congressman Gary Peters in what is considered a competitive race this fall.

· Oregon: Neurosurgeon Monica Wehby is battling State Representative Jason Conger for the GOP nod to take on one-term Democratic incumbent Jeff Merkley.

· Iowa: State Senator Joni Ernst is battling former energy executive Mark Jacobs with three other candidates possibly sending the nomination decision to the party convention if no candidate reaches 35 percent.

· Minnesota: State Senator Julianne Ortman remains a contender in a crowded GOP field but faces a big fundraising disadvantage against her main competitor, businessman Mike McFadden.

As for the Democrats, while nominees may yet emerge in Texas (Lyndon LaRoucheite Kesha Rogers is in a runoff later this month) and special elections in Oklahoma (State Senator Constance Johnson) and South Carolina (Councilwoman Joyce Dickerson), the best chance to send a woman to the U.S. Senate outside of Kentucky and Georgia is in Hawaii.

U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa is challenging appointed Democratic incumbent Brian Schatz in the August primary, but, despite early sentiment in her favor, she has seen several key groups and lawmakers endorse her primary opponent.

Should Hanabusa emerge as the nominee she would be the overwhelming favorite to win the general election.

Follow Smart Politics on Twitter.

Previous post: Ricketts Wins Nebraska GOP Gubernatorial Nod with Lowest Support in State History
Next post: Allyson Schwartz Could Set Pennsylvania Democratic Record Even With Loss

Leave a comment


Remains of the Data

Is There a Presidential Drag On Gubernatorial Elections?

Only five of the 20 presidents to serve since 1900 have seen their party win a majority of gubernatorial elections during their administrations, and only one since JFK.

Political Crumbs

Strike Three for Miller-Meeks

Iowa Republicans had a banner day on November 4th, picking up both a U.S. Senate seat and one U.S. House seat, but Mariannette Miller-Meeks' defeat in her third attempt to oust Democrat Dave Loebsack in the 2nd CD means the GOP will not have a monopoly on the state's congressional delegation in the 114th Congress. The loss by Miller-Meeks (following up her defeats in 2008 and 2010) means major party nominees who lost their first two Iowa U.S. House races are now 0 for 10 the third time around in Iowa history. Miller-Meeks joins Democrat William Leffingwell (1858, 1868, 1870), Democrat Anthony Van Wagenen (1894, 1912 (special), 1912), Democrat James Murtagh (1906, 1914, 1916), Democrat Clair Williams (1944, 1946, 1952), Democrat Steven Carter (1948, 1950, 1956), Republican Don Mahon (1966, 1968, 1970), Republican Tom Riley (1968, 1974, 1976), Democrat Eric Tabor (1986, 1988, 1990), and Democrat Bill Gluba (1982, 1988, 2004) on the Hawkeye State's Three Strikes list.


Larry Pressler Wins the Silver

Larry Pressler may have fallen short in his long-shot, underfunded, and understaffed bid to return to the nation's upper legislative chamber, but he did end up notching the best showing for a non-major party South Dakota U.S. Senate candidate in more than 90 years. Pressler won 17.1 percent of the vote which is the best showing for an independent or third party U.S. Senate candidate in the state since 1920 when non-partisan candidate Tom Ayres won 24.1 percent in a race won by Republican Peter Norbeck. Overall, Pressler's 17.1 percent is good for the second best mark for a non-major party candidate across the 35 U.S. Senate contests in South Dakota history. Independent and third party candidates have appeared on the South Dakota U.S. Senate ballot just 25 times over the last century and only three have reached double digits: Pressler in 2014 and Ayres in 1920 and 1924 (12.1 percent). Pressler's defeat means he won't become the oldest candidate elected to the chamber in South Dakota history nor notch the record for the longest gap in service in the direct election era.


more POLITICAL CRUMBS

Humphrey School Sites
CSPG
Humphrey New Media Hub

Issues />

<div id=
Abortion
Afghanistan
Budget and taxes
Campaign finances
Crime and punishment
Economy and jobs
Education
Energy
Environment
Foreign affairs
Gender
Health
Housing
Ideology
Immigration
Iraq
Media
Military
Partisanship
Race and ethnicity
Reapportionment
Redistricting
Religion
Sexuality
Sports
Terrorism
Third parties
Transportation
Voting