Republican women make history in new Congress

A look at what propelled a record number of GOP women into the halls of Congress this election
Published: Dec. 15, 2020 at 9:11 AM EST
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) – Autumn in Washington is a time of change. As the weather cools, and the leaves fall, new lawmakers arrive at the Capitol.

One of them is Rep.-elect Ashley Hinson, who is coming off a win in the tight race for Iowa’s 1st Congressional District.

Washington Bureau Chief Jacqueline Policastro spoke to Hinson on Zoom.

“I just literally put pedal to the metal,” Hinson said. “I was out in the district in my ‘mom van,’ and I think that made the difference to the people of Iowa’s 1st District.”

Last month, Republican women won the most seats they’ve ever had in Congress. This after Democratic women made historic gains two years ago.

“Women were looking at things in 2018 and said, ‘Okay, I know I can do it. I have seen other women do it, and so, it’s my turn to step up and run,’” said Hinson.

Hinson had help. Over the past two years, House Republicans built a strong recruitment and support network for female candidates. There’s also the money. Nearly all of the Republican women who won this election cycle had financial backing.

“Winning for Women Action Fund went in and made sure that every woman that we endorsed and we supported was the best fit for her district,” said Olivia Perez-Cubas from the Winning for Winning Action Fund.

Perez-Cubas said the Winning for Women network spent nearly $5 million backing an ethnically diverse group of female candidates this campaign season.

“These women ran great campaigns, and were able to pull some of these more moderate, middle-of-the-road voters back into the Republican fold,” Perez-Cubas said.

The Democratic powerhouse, Emily’s List, reports it spent tens of millions of dollars supporting women running for Congress this election cycle. But several of the candidates they endorsed lost to Republican women. Emily’s List didn’t respond to our repeated requests for an interview.

Following unexpected Democratic losses in the house, there’s been a change at the top of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The new chairman, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), said he couldn’t make time for an interview either.

Despite the gains made by Republicans this term, Democratic women in the House still outnumber Republicans. As of December 15, Republican women hold 36 total seats in Congress: eight in the Senate and 28 in the House. With several House races and the Georgia Senate races yet to be determined, the final number is still unknown.

Both sides are already preparing for the midterms, because women are proving they can win.

In our November interview with Rep.-elect Hinson, she also spoke about her plans for connecting with the press and constituents during her term. Hinson also spoke about doing new member orientation in a virtual format, after she tested positive for COVID-19 the week prior. Click below to hear more.

Rep.-elect Ashley Hinson plans to share “Vote Notes” online

Rep.-elect Ashley Hinson talks about virtual new member orientation

Rep.-elect Ashley Hinson plans to hold a weekly press conference

Multimedia Journalist Natalie Grim and Photojournalist/Editor Tyler Smith contributed to this report.

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