In the lead up to the 2018 midterms, female candidates running as independents and third parties are shockingly under-represented by organizations who endorse and track women – even those groups who claim to be nonpartisan.
One example is The Center for American Women and Politics that was established in July 1971 at Rutgers University’s Eagleton Institute of Politics. For decades, CAWP has claimed to be “a nonpartisan voice that is central to creating awareness and understanding of women’s political participation.”
However, while combing through CAWP’s information on 2018 female candidates running for U.S. Congress and statewide executive offices, there was no mention of any women running under a third party or independent.
That's strange, considering there are relevant candidates like Maine Treasurer Terry Hayes (independent) running for governor and Jenn Gray (libertarian) running for Secretary of State in Arizona. How about Green Party candidate Dr. Lynn S. Kahn, who worked inside federal agencies for over three decades, and is running for U.S. House in New York's 21st Congressional District?
Yet each and every one of the 57 female California Republican and Democrat candidates were included.CAWP has all female candidates who ran or are still running for Maine governor -- as long as they have an "R" or "D" next to their name. Independent State Treasurer and candidate Terry Hayes has been left off the list.
Even the hundreds of individuals who did not advance to the general election were accounted for, as long as there was an “R” or “D” next to their name. Yet women such as Green Party candidate Laura Wells, who is headed to the general election in California’s 13th Congressional District and faces incumbent Barbara J. Lee this November, were simply forgotten.
As a matter of fact, if you looked at California’s 13th district on the list as it currently stands, it appears that Lee is running unopposed for the House seat.
As the sole female candidate running for Texas’ 9th Congressional District, one would think that independent Kesha Rogers would be mentioned by an organization that strives to define and enlarge the study and advancement of women in American politics.
What about former Syracuse mayor Stephanie Miner, who is now running as an independent for governor in New York?
What's more, Alyse Galvin, who is seeking election to represent Alaska’s single congressional district, is the only independent candidate mentioned on the report of nearly 600 women running for office. However, she is incorrectly identified as a Democrat with an asterisk noting that in Alaska, independents are allowed to run in Democratic primaries.
Alyse Galvin describes herself on her campaign website by stating:
“I have spent my entire life bringing people together to solve problems, fighting for our communities and standing up for Alaska’s future. I am ready to be a solutions-oriented, independent voice who fights for all Alaskans. Strong public education, jobs with real wage growth, and quality, comprehensive health care are the keys to growing the diversified economy of Alaska’s future. That’s why I’m running as an Independent candidate for Congress.”
As a woman myself, I recognize that the work CAWP does is exceptionally meaningful for educating others on women’s participation in the political arena and encouraging women to continue to find their voices as leaders and trailblazers within our country.
However, as history always seems to repeat itself, a new glass ceiling has emerged for the women who have taken the risk of running as independents and third party candidates.
For years the status quo implied that women were not only unfit to be political leaders, but also unworthy of the right to vote. With the efforts of individuals such as Nellie Tayloe Ross, the first woman to take office as a Governor, and Jeannette Rankin, the first woman to serve in Congress, that glass ceiling was swiftly shattered. Now, we find ourselves in 2018 with a historic number of women running for office.
However, within the 21st century, as voters find themselves trapped within the two-party system, there are women such as Hayes and Rogers who are independently breaking through a new glass ceiling, one of partisanship and a lack of political competition.
After so many decades spent fighting for the right to be heard, it is our responsibility to list, track, and showcase all women who are willing to enter the arena of political leadership in this country, rather than reserving public attention solely for those who fit into the two party paradigm.