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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

2016 A Banner Year for Democratic Women?

Reading Sean Sullivan’s “Democrats seek star recruits to try to win back control of the Senate” leaves an impression that Democrats are in fair to good, not great, position in their struggle to win back a senate majority in 2016.
Sullivan argues that the Dems’ “bench” is thin, lacking in exciting candidates. It may be a little early to make that call, but yes, candidates need to be getting in position right quick, raising funds and recruiting campaign personnel.
But Democratic Senate candidates may be poised for creating some excitement nonetheless. The most encouraging thing in Sullivan’s report is that Dems have a number of impressive women considering 2016 candidacies for Senate, including Rep. Tammy Duckworth (IL), Gov. Maggie Hassan (NH), A.G. Kamala Harris (CA) and former Sen. Kay Hagan (NC), who lost her senate seat by just 1.7 percent in 2014. If Hagan passes on the race, Democratic state Treasurer Janet Cowell may take the challenge. Marc Caputo reports at Politico that FL Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz is also considering a senate run in 2016.
The Democratic party should be able to leverage some added credibility with women voters if all those candidates run, especially if a woman wins the presidential nomination. Sen. Elizabeth Warren will also be campaigning in their behalf, rallying new women voters and the Democrats’ progressive base voters.
Twenty women now serve in the U.S. Senate, 14 Democrats and 6 Republicans. If the aforementioned women run and win and other Democratic women senators hold their seats, the new total could be a record 25 women U.S. Senators, including 18 Democrats. There is still a little time for more women to join the fray, but not much. To put the numbers in historical perspective, only 44 women have served as U.S. Senators in American history (the first in was elected 1932).
What is certain is that Democratic women candidates for the presidency and U.S. Senate will likely generate more media coverage and discussion than ever about women in American politics. That can only encourage more women to run for office across the U.S. and showcase the Democratic party’s inclusive image.

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