The Republican Party ran a mere 48 female House candidates in the 2016 election cycle, but this year that number has more than doubled to 103, including incumbents. The GOP still trails well behind the Democratic Party, which is fielding 305 women for House seats this year, but continued growth at this pace would bring the parties to parity within a decade.
"The number of female candidates on the Republican side doubling is not an accident," Matt Mackowiak, a GOP strategist, told The Hill. "That is a result of a disciplined effort to recruit strong female candidates, both from the party directly, but also from outside groups that believe female candidates give them a better chance to hold, and perhaps expand, their majority." Women on the GOP ticket have the potential to appeal to a broader base of voters, attracting independent votes a male candidate would not.
Much of the credit goes to Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), who in 2014 at age 30 became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. Stefanik is now in charge of recruitment of candidates for the House GOP, and her attention to recruiting women has become all the more important as six of the 21 Republican women presently in the House are retiring or seeking higher office this year.
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