Democrats have the longest sitting female senator in history, Barbara Mikulski of Maryland. Counting potential reelections of women Democrats have Senators Feinstein, Stabenow, Klobuchar, Cantwell, McCaskill and Gillibrand, with Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinDem senator accuses Wisconsin Republicans of 'power grab' Schumer reelected as Senate Democratic Leader Number of LGBT lawmakers in Congress hits double digits MORE of Wisconsin, Shelley Berkley of Nevada, Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenBiden, Sanders lead field in Iowa poll The 2020 Democratic nomination will run through the heart of black America Gillibrand says she's worried about top options in Dem 2020 poll being white men MORE in Massachusetts and Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampHatch warns Senate 'in crisis' in farewell speech Dem senators Heitkamp, Donnelly urge bipartisanship in farewell speeches House passes bipartisan bill aimed at reversing rising maternal mortality rates MORE of North Dakota all vying for the Senate.

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The first Republican and first female elected governor of Hawaii, Linda Lingle, is running for Senate, too.

Rivaling the marquee contest of Elizabeth Warren-Scott Brown on the Senate side, we’ve now got Iraq war veteran and double-amputee Tammy Duckworth against Joe Walsh on the House side.

In the New York Times in October 2011, Barbara Lee, president of the Barbara Lee Family Foundation, whose goal is to get more women “engaged in politics,” made a defining observation: “Men who have the slightly relevant experience will jump in without a second thought. Women need to be recruited and asked multiple times by multiple people in order to consider running.”

And guess who’s covering these stories? Candy Crowley, Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric and Christiane Amanpour had their turns, too. Morning shows cast women across all the cable and network channels, with subjects ranging from Afghanistan to the financial crisis, with fluff sandwiched between real news. Al GoreAlbert (Al) Arnold GoreCalifornia dreamin’ in the 2020 presidential race Santorum: Dems have a chance in 2020 if they pick someone ‘unexpected’ Don’t romanticize Bush now that he’s gone — learn from him MORE’s CurrentTV added former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm to their primetime lineup, Erin Burnett is on CNN primetime, with Melissa Harris-Perry joining MSNBC where Rachel Maddow has taken up primary hosting. Greta Van Susteren’s reign at Fox News Channel continues, with Megyn Kelly another formidable presence there.

After Andrea Mitchell’s conversation with Susan G. Komen on her MSNBC mid-day show, the furor just got louder. In mid-March The New Yorker reported the Komen Foundation’s big May Awards Gala and fundraiser had been cancelled, the guarantee of it being financially successful gone. The resignations of Komen’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer, and the CEO of Komen's New York City affiliate, punctuated the Foundation’s turmoil.

When Sandra Fluke stood up for mandated contraceptive coverage, it ignited “slut - prostitute” smears from Rush Limbaugh that rocked talk radio and its comfy advertising base, which continues to reverberate. 

According to Emily’s List president Stephanie Schriock, the group has doubled its members since Speaker BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerOpening day of new Congress: Not always total joy Meadows looks to make his move Fractious GOP vows to unify in House minority MORE took the gavel, topping 1 million members in hopes of doing just that. President Obama is depending on women, too, because female voters could be his backstop against rising oil prices that are frustrating everyone and over which he has little control.

For Republicans, the year of the woman could mean something else entirely.  In Virginia, the transvaginal ultrasound bill that came to Gov. Bob McDonnell’s desk caused such an uproar that it humiliated the Republican vice presidential hopeful. In Pennsylvania, when Republican Gov. Tom Corbett was faced with “The Woman’s Right To Know Act,” a bill that forces women to have a mandatory ultrasound and look at the results before terminating a pregnancy, he said, "You just have to close your eyes." 

Republicans would be wise to listen to Margaret Hoover, who said on Bill O’Reilly’s show, talking about the 2012 presidential election, that “if Republicans make this about social issues, we’re going to lose.”  O’Reilly ignored her, which is the Fox News audience’s loss.

HBO’s “Game Change” offered a cautionary tale for all women, as we look out on a political world of wider possibilities. The Hillary Effect is proving again and again that women want to see themselves in other women who are leading and offering solutions. We all saw Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMemo Comey used to brief Trump on dossier released: report Trump will likely win reelection in 2020 Lanny Davis says Nixon had more respect for the Constitution than Trump MORE take on the toughest challenge there is and come closer to succeeding than any other woman in American history. The opportunities abound for us today. But to be a game-changer, we better come prepared. 

Marsh is the founder of TaylorMarsh.com and author of "The Hillary Effect."