California Enlisting a Few(More) Good Woman Politicians

Mary Hughes and Betsy Cotton are looking for more progressive women to close the gender gap. The statewide recruiting campaign, Close the Gap CA, wants women to run and win seats in the California legislature in 2014 and 2016.

In the last 10 years, women’s representation in California’s state legislature has declined 25 percent, from 30 percent and representation of women of color dropped to 32 percent, from 44 percent.

Hughes and Cotton previously led The 2012 Project, a national, non-partisan campaign of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University to increase the number of women in Congress and state legislatures by taking advantage of newly drawn and newly created districts resulting from redistricting and reapportionment.

While women made historic gains at the federal level during the last election, California women lost ground at the state level. Last November, Californians voted to send 32 women to the state legislature (11 Senators and 21 Assembly members). That’s two fewer than the number that served in the previous legislative session.

Hughes and Cotton believe progressive women are crucial to not just closing the gender gap, but closing the school funding gap, the access gap to affordable health and reproductive care, and the growing gap between the wealthy and those in poverty.

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, famously broke through the glass ceiling at the federal level, yet that same ceiling remains harder to break through in the state Legislature. Although women represent 50 percent of California’s population, according to the US Census Bureau, female legislators hold just 26 percent of the 120 legislative seats in the state’s capital, Sacramento.

Close the Gap CA has partnered with women’s political and civic organizations, past and current legislators and with Educate Our State, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of CA and others to identify promising prospects and arm them with the tools run and win.

The official search party kicks off June 1.



Image: VicPrintrt/Creative Commons/Flickr