Women in politics broke barriers this year—from Kamala Harris’s historic Vice-Presidential election to the record…
What 2023 Could Bring for Women in Politics
It’s been just over one month since we kicked off 2023 with swearing-in ceremonies for a record number of women in governorships, in Congress, and in state legislatures. On the heels of last year’s barrier-breaking election, women in politics are showing no sign of slowing down in 2023! Here are the moments and issues our team at the Barbara Lee Family Foundation will be watching this year:
- Women Launching Campaigns for High-Profile Seats: Last week, the Washington Post reported that Nikki Haley—a former Ambassador to the United Nations and South Carolina governor—is planning to announce a 2024 presidential run. Haley was the first (and to this day, is the only) Asian-American woman to serve as governor in the United States. It almost goes without saying, but in our country’s centuries of existence we have never had a woman president! In 2020, we saw multiple women compete for the Oval Office, and my boss Barbara Lee often points to the 2020 elections as evidence that we will no longer have elections without qualified women candidates on the ballot. I imagine that Haley is likely the first of many women who will seek the presidency next year and kick off campaigns this calendar year.
- Women are ready for 2024 in the legislative branch, too. In January, Congresswomen Barbara Lee and Katie Porter signaled (in Lee’s case), or announced (in Porter’s), that they will run for California Senator Dianne Feinstein’s seat. And in Michigan, Senator Debbie Stabenow’s announced retirement immediately started speculation that a number of women could run to replace her, including Congresswomen Debbie Dingell, Elissa Slotkin, and Haley Stevens.
- Women Leading from Prominent Roles: While women are still vastly underrepresented in all levels of government, I expect to see the women who are in office to continue to lead in their respective branches—from Vice President Kamala Harris to the 12 women governors, to Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (a “potent force” on the Right who will now serve on at least two House Committees).
- We know from our BLFF research that although voters often have an “imagination barrier” when it comes to picturing women in leadership roles, that barrier can be broken. Seeing the Vice President seated on the dais at the State of the Union on February 7th, or watching Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders deliver the response, palpably reminds other women and girls of what women can do—and inspires them to run for office, too.
- Women Running in Consequential Elections: 2023 might not be a major national election year, but will still bring important electoral contests! Virginia is holding a special election in just a few weeks for the 4th Congressional District. On February 21st, Republican Leon Benjamin and Democrat Jennifer McClellan will vie for the seat.
- I’ll also be watching to see if the gubernatorial elections in Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi feature any women candidates—and how the many women mayors and City Councilors up for reelection across the country fare (including in my hometown of Boston!).