OK, let’s face it: the Republican Party has a major diversity and inclusion problem. Women, African Americans, members of the LGBT community and Latinos find that not only is the Republican Party not looking out for their best interests, many think that the Republican Party is not interested in their issues, because there is no one who looks like them. Some call it a myth, others call a reality; I’m somewhere in the middle.
On the eve of the 2014 Congressional midterm elections, it looks as if the Republican Party is at least trying to change that perception with women. By getting more elected to the House, as of today, there are 19 Republican women in the Congress. According to all of the exit polling from the 2012 presidential election, women were the key factor in reelecting President Obama to the White House. According to the data, women believed Republicans were hostile to women’s issues such as abortion, health care and other issues that are important to this crucial voting bloc.
Understanding and accepting this dilemma, the GOP is launching a new program that will have its 19 GOP women fanning out across the country, recruiting more women to join their ranks by encouraging them to run for national office – as Republicans. The GOP women will not only try to recruit women nationally, but will also serve as mentors on everything from how to raise money for an exploratory committee, to hiring a staff, to debate prep and opposition research.
The national headquarters, also realizing that recruitment is contingent upon a good message, and being reminded that a good message is only is as good as good policy, is working with current lawmakers to craft legislation that is appealing to swing women voters. “I think that we have to do a better job in messaging to women,” said Rep. Diane Black of Tennessee. “And I think we’ve learned some lessons, and building upon the lessons that we have learned, tell women that as Republicans, our policies so well match what women many times are very concerned about.”
National Democrats, of course will point to their record number of women lawmakers — nearly one-third are members of the Democratic Party, while only 8 percent of women lawmakers call the GOP home. Needless to say, the GOP has long way to go to correct the gender inequity, not only with Capitol Hill lawmakers, but also for elected office seekers nationwide. Consider the facts: During the last campaign cycle, 109 Republican women filed federal paperwork to run for the House; 48 won their primaries, including 21 incumbents, and 20 won their elections, according to a study from the Rutgers Center for American Women and Politics. (A post-election retirement left the House GOP women’s caucus with 19 members.) By comparison, 190 Democratic women filed federal paperwork to run for the House last cycle; 118 won their primaries, including 45 incumbents, and 62 were elected.
Let’s give the GOP some credit for not only acknowledging a problem with women, but also trying to fix it. Time will only tell if they are effective or not. It will be fun to watch and even more delightful to analyze the results a few years from now. Stay tuned.
Contact Robert Traynham on Twitter @roberttraynham.