Roll Call: Republicans Look to Make Up Loss of House Women

Published: October 24, 2017

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By Simone Pathé

Nearly a fourth of the Republican women in the House aren’t coming back next term.

And another handful could lose competitive re-elections next fall.

Twenty-two GOP women serve as representatives. Five have already announced their departures. The task for Republicans this year may be less about increasing the number of female lawmakers and more about minimizing the party’s losses.

That’s putting pressure on the party that’s always struggled to get female candidates through expensive primaries without anything comparable to EMILY’s List. Democrats have 62 female representatives.

Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is retiring, as is Kansas Rep. Lynn Jenkins. Tennessee Rep. Diane Black and South Dakota Rep. Kristi Noem are running for governor in their respective states. Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn is running for the Senate.

“It doesn’t appear we’re going to be replacing women with women, but I’m not worried about that,” said Jennifer Higgins, chairwoman of Congressional Outreach for Right NOW Women PAC, which supports female GOP candidates.

“What stands out is not quantity but quality,” she said, crediting New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, the first chairwoman of recruitment at the National Republican Congressional Committee, for “pounding the pavement” to look for viable female candidates who can get through primaries.