Why There Are More Republican Women in Congress Than Ever Before
Lori Chavez-DeRemer sat in the gallery of the House nearly two decades ago with her mom and her twin daughters – tourists peering down at lawmakers on the floor of the chamber.
“I’d really love to be here someday,” the Oregon Republican recalled telling her mother, who encouraged her to think about a run. She’d recently been elected to her city council, but she had her doubts. “I said, ‘Everybody on the floor there probably has a law degree. I’m a stay-at-home mom.’”
But Chavez-DeRemer flipped a Democratic seat in November, helping Republicans win a narrow House majority. She is now among a record 42 Republican women in Congress and one of the first two Latino members of Congress from Oregon.
The trail she has blazed is emblematic of the progress that the Republican Party has made in electing women over the past decade – hard-fought milestones reached only after outside groups began playing a larger role in primaries.
Still, GOP women are far from reaching parity with Democrats. Thirty-three of them will serve in the House alone this term, compared with 91 Democratic women. Though many women (and men who care about electing them) applaud a recent shift in attitude among GOP leadership and a segment of the donor class – for whom identity politics has often been anathema – long-term hurdles remain.