Vermont Set to Become Final US State With First Woman in Congress
In January, Congress is set to welcome a female representative from Vermont. It will be the first time in 233 years that each of the 50 states will have sent a woman to Capitol Hill.
That’s thanks to Vermont, which is poised to be the last state to send a woman to represent it in Washington. Becca Balint, who served in the state senate, won the Democratic primary for the state’s only House seat on Tuesday.
Balint is likely to win the election in November and sworn in in January to fill the seat vacated by Peter Welch, becoming the first woman that the Green Mountain State sends to Congress. A Republican hasn’t won the seat since Peter Smith in 1988.
In recent years, Congress has increased its ranks of gender diversity as more women run for office—though male lawmakers still make up the vast majority. There are 150 female members serving in the current 117th Congress out of a total of 541, including the six non-voting members, up from 130 women in the last class.
The fact that it took so long for Vermont to send a woman to the Hill has “become a source of some embarrassment” to the state, which is seen as progressive on many other matters, Elaine Haney, executive director of Democratic political training organization Emerge Vermont, recently told the 19th. A 2018 Gallup poll tracking political ideology by state found that Vermont was more liberal than conservative, ranking only behind Massachusetts and Hawaii in the percentage of residents who called themselves “liberal.”
Elsewhere in the US election cycle, female candidates are also breaking records. There are 133 Black women who are competing for spots in the US House of Representatives, four times the figure in 2016, according to the Center for American Women and Politics.