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It’s a great time to be a woman in Congress — if you’re a Democrat.
Women make up nearly a quarter of the House and Senate with 127 voting members, the highest percentage in history. Only 21 of these members are Republican. That’s one Republican woman for every six Democratic women serving in Congress. In last year’s historic midterms, the number of Republican women in Congress actually decreased.
I’ve never been a fan of identity politics, but I understand from experience that identity matters, whether one likes it or not. When I began in business, I was always the only woman in the room. Sometimes that felt like an advantage, other times it did not. But those days have passed.
There are now 76.5 million women in the workforce, the highest in recorded history. About 40% of businesses are women-owned. Women are no longer minority stakeholders in the workforce. We are the workforce, and it’s time our representation caught up in Washington.
Party leadership and ranking Republican members of the House and Senate claim to support principled Republican women running for Congress. However, their ability to turn promises into campaign support has proven tepid at best. One former House candidate described her experience with Republicans in Washington as getting “ghosted.”
Establishment Republicans always seem to find a “more conservative” or “more viable” alternative, and he is usually wearing a blue blazer with a red tie. If Republicans are going to win back the House, they need young, energetic, and diverse candidates like the five women FreedomWorks for America just endorsed.
Rosemary Becchi is a powerhouse tax policy lawyer and former adviser for the IRS and Senate Finance Committee, where she co-authored the bill establishing 529 college savings plans. She is challenging Democrat Tom Malinowski in New Jersey’s seventh congresssional district.
Yvette Herrell is a four-term New Mexico state representative and a small-business entrepreneur. She is challenging Democrat Xochitl Torres Small in New Mexico’s second district.
Jeanne Ives is a former U.S. Army platoon leader and former three-term Republican state representative challenging Democrat Sean Casten in Illinois’ sixth district. She's no stranger to taking on the entrenched interests of the party establishment and has proven again and again to be a grassroots favorite. This should come as no surprise at a time when all too many Republicans are prone to cede ground on the issue of fiscal responsibility. Ives has instead made sticking up for the Illinois taxpayer a cornerstone of her platform.
Amanda Makki and her family escaped an oppressive religious regime to achieve the American Dream. She has served the Army General Counsel at the Pentagon, advised the House and Senate, and became one of the youngest partners at a prestigious law firm. Now she is taking on former governor and Republican-turned-Democrat Charlie Crist in Florida’s 13th district.
Terry Neese was raised on a farm in southwest Oklahoma to become a successful entrepreneur, international executive, and award-winning small business advocate. As former president of the National Association of Women Business Owners, Terry led the national push for H.R. 5050, which permitted women business owners to obtain small business loans and credit cards without a male signature. It was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan. She is now challenging Democrat Kendra Horn in Oklahoma’s fifth district.
I am not certain these women will be members of the House Freedom Caucus, but I do know this — a Republican Party without compelling candidates with interesting stories is not going to take the House majority back in 2020.
These women are the future of the Republican Party. These are the candidates who can inspire the districts that turned blue in 2018 to take a chance on the Republican Party again. There is no shortage of smart, capable, successful Republican women running for Congress — only a shortage of Republicans in Washington who are willing to help them win.
Carol Davis is chairman of the Illinois Conservative Union and founder of the West Suburban Patriots, which contain more than 800 conservative activists and growing. Carol is also chair of the FreedomWorks Activist Advisory Council.