An unprecedented number of Republican women are running for their party's nomination in U.S. House and Senate primaries — or are already on their way to battle Democrats in the fall midterm elections. So many are campaigning that many conservative women are anticipating strong gains in their congressional numbers come November.Spin that!
"This is a breakthrough moment," says Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List, which raises money for female candidates who oppose abortion.
Fourteen Republican women are in the running for the U.S. Senate. In 2008, just three Republican women competed in the general election, according to the Center for American Women and Politics. And 94 are still vying for House seats, compared with 46 at about the same time in the primary cycle two years ago.
Also telling? Sixty of the 106 women who are challenging incumbents for House seats are Republicans — a sign, says Debbie Walsh, the center's director, that GOP women are increasingly willing to "put their hat in the ring," though the fall outcome remains unpredictable.
In California, former eBay head Meg Whitman is expected to win the Republican gubernatorial nomination over state insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner for the seat being vacated by term-limited GOP Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Attorney General Jerry Brown is the Democratic candidate.As for The Palin Effect ....
And Palin-endorsed Carly Fiorina, a former Hewlett-Packard chief, has surged to a lead in the polls over two male challengers in the party's U.S. Senate contest.
The winner will face Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer in the fall.
Whitman and Fiorina, along with Republican Senate candidate and professional wrestling executive Linda McMahon in Connecticut, represent a new political trend, Walsh says, of female executives turning to politics.
In Nevada's Republican Senate primary, two women — establishment favorite Sue Lowden, a casino executive, and Tea Party-endorsed Sharron Angle — are locked in dead-heat combat for the opportunity to face Democratic Sen. Harry Reid in the fall. Angle is a former state legislator.
Politicos are also watching the GOP's gubernatorial primary in South Carolina, where state Rep. Nikki Haley, another Palin endorsee, leads the pack.
When Palin appeared at a recent breakfast fundraiser for the Susan B. Anthony List, Dannenfelser called her the "wind in our sails" — someone who "embodies the energy" of what she characterized the new conservative women's movement.... and the Salamander did grin.
Palin's life story — mother of five, including a son with Down syndrome, governor of Alaska, vice presidential nominee — has proved compelling to many conservative women.