It’s a record year for female candidates in Pennsylvania — 136 women will be on ballots across the state on Nov. 6.
“There’s a different vibe. So many candidates in the Pittsburgh area are women,” said Jennie Sweet-Cushman, assistant director of the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University. Their energy started early and is still there with less than two weeks to go, she said.
Take two local races for example. During the primary, grassroots campaigns for Democratic Pa. House candidates Sara Innamorato (District 21, which includes portions of Pittsburgh, as well as Millvale, Etna, and Ross Township) and Summer Lee (District 34, which includes boroughs east of Pittsburgh such as Braddock, Rankin and Swissvale) used door knocking and constituent conversations that led to both candidates ousting long-time incumbents.
Their victories were covered by everyone from The New Yorker to ELLE, and both candidates received phone calls from U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders to congratulate them. Now, they’re unopposed in the general election and are noted as rising stars among the ranks of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democratic candidate for New York’s 14th congressional district.
In Pennsylvania, it’s Democrats who caused the record bump in women candidates, Sweet-Cushman said, and their candidates have been backed by funders including WTF Pittsburgh and Represent PA, a statewide political action committee. But the gap between the number of Democratic women and the number of Republican women running concerns Sweet-Cushman. “We need women on all sides of the aisle.”
On election night, Sweet-Cushman said she will not only be paying attention to who wins, but to how women candidates’ vote totals stack up to comparable male candidates, especially in Pittsburgh-area races. Generally, when women run, they win at the same rate as men, but in Allegheny County, women candidates have not done as well as male candidates, she said.
So how could the record number of women candidates change the number of women representing Pennsylvania at the state and federal level after the winners of the midterm elections are sworn in?
To find out, The Incline used the state’s candidate database as well as Pa. General Assembly and U.S. Congress rosters. The state’s database includes all candidates on the ballot, including third-party candidates.
In Harrisburg, Pa.
Currently in the Pa. General Assembly, there are seven women in the state Senate and 42 in the state house. That includes three Democrat and four Republican state senators and 21 Democrats and 21 Republicans in the Pa. House.
On Nov. 6, all 203 seats of the state House and 25 seats in the Pa. Senate are up for election.
- 19 women are running for state senate — 13 Democrats and 6 Republicans
- 109 women are running for state house — 75 Democrats, 32 Republicans, one Green Party member, and one Independent candidate
Here’s the breakdown of 2018 candidates for the Pa. General Assembly:
However, in 17 cases women are running against other women. So even though 128 women are running for Pa. General Assembly races, the maximum number of women candidates that could be elected is 111 — 16 to the Pa. Senate and 95 to the Pa. House.
Here’s what that would look like if those 111 women were elected:
While that’s the maximum, the actual number of women who will be in office come January is between 39 and 113, due to the two women Pa. Senators who are not up for election and will still be in office.
Here’s a look at which seats will go to men or women and which seats are swing seats.
To determine the totals for seats that will go to either men and women, The Incline added the number of lawmakers not up for election, as well as those running unopposed. The swing seats are the number of offices where a woman candidate is running against at least one male candidate.
How Harrisburg could change:
In Washington, D.C.
Pennsylvania has a 20-member delegation in the U.S. Congress, two senators and 18 representatives. And currently, none are women.
However, all 18 representative seats and one U.S. Senate seat are up for grabs on Nov. 6. (Republican Sen. Pat Toomey is up for re-election in 2022.)
Here’s the breakdown of candidates for U.S. Congress:
In the U.S. Senate, there are four candidates — a Republican, a Democrat, a Libertarian and a Green Party member, all men.
For the U.S. House, women are eight of the 37 candidates running for 18 seats. There are seven Democratic women and one Republican woman running.
One race in eastern Pa., District 5, has two women candidates: Mary Gay Scanlon (D) and Pearl Kim (R), so the most seats that could be filled by women is seven in the U.S. House.
There will be no change in the U.S. Senate.