More women entering state’s political landscape

Nomination wins by multiple women vying for state congressional seats marked this year’s primary election results, with seven Democrats and one Republican set to run in November.

G. Terry Madonna, Franklin & Marshall director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs, tweeted that if four Democratic male incumbents lost, women would have made up 50 percent of the Demo­cratic candidates in the state, a shift he called “historic.”

Some women and men running for local congressional and legislative offices applauded the entrance of more women in the political realm, a landscape typically dominated by males.

Susan Boser, who won the Democratic nomination for the 15th Congressional District, said, “The wins are historic and long overdue. I believe it signals an important shift in the state’s political culture.”

Six other women won the Democratic nominations for their U.S. Congressional districts: Bibiana Boerio, 14th District; Chrissy Houlahan, 6th District; Susan Wild, 7th District; Jess King, 11th District; Mary Scanlon, 5th District; and Madeleine Dean, 4th District.

Pearl Kim of the 5th District was the only woman to win a Republi­can nomination.

Rep. Judy Ward, R-Hollidays­burg, won the Republican nomination for the 30th senatorial seat,and will face another woman, Democrat Emily Best, this fall.

“Folks are recognizing the attributes women bring to the table,” Ward said, commenting on how she thinks women are strong negotiators and multi-taskers with skills that lend to “good politics.”

Best said, “I think it is wonderful that women in Pennsylvania are winning nominations for Congress and other races on the ballot. Women make up half the population and deserve to be at the table.”

She added that 2018 is a year for change, and that rural central Pennsylvania needs a new political approach.

“We need new politics for our region, with creative thinkers from diverse backgrounds who can reach across the aisle and get things done for the residents of our district,” she said.

Laura Burke, who is the Democratic candidate for the 80th House seat, said it is “cool” to see other women like her running for political offices.

With more women making up the political landscape, Burke said she thinks various issues like equal pay and child care will more likely be addressed and more solutions met due to a willingness to work together.

Burke said it is important to have more women enter politics in order to have a say.

“If we don’t do it, our voices are really not going to be heard, so we might as well do it ourselves,” she said.

Her opponent, Jim Gregory, said he is glad to see more women seeking elected office in rural parts of the state that have been a “calling mostly men answered.”

“As a first-time candidate, I view my opponent as a person just like me,” Gregory said. “The gender of my opponent hasn’t changed how important it is for me and my campaign to remain positive and respectful during the process.”

Nicholas Pyeatt, a Penn State Altoona political science professor, said the number and percentage of women in political offices vary by state, adding that Pennsyl­vania ranks in the lower percentile compared to other states like California.

Pyeatt said a few factors could have encouraged more women to seek elected offices this year, including low approval ratings of President Donald Trump from women, some cultural shifts and more competitive districts because of redistricting.

He said he anticipates the number of female politicians to increase by a small percentage.

Rep. John McGinnis, R-Altoona, whose political term ends this year and who managed the campaign of former 79th House District candidate, Sharon Bream, said all citizens are created equal and that gender is irrelevant.

McGinnis added that people concern themselves with categories and labels too much and need to “stop counting the beans.”

“When we stop worrying about the sex of candidates, we’ll be better as a nation,” McGinnis said, adding thatpeople should instead focus on the principles and ideologies of those seeking elected positions.

Mirror Staff Writer Shen Wu Tan is at 946-7457.