GOP women’s group endorses challengers in top Senate, House races

GOP women’s group endorses challengers in top Senate, House races
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A GOP group that backs female candidates who support free-market policies and national security unveiled its second round of endorsements in top Senate and House races.

In an announcement that was shared first with The Hill, Winning For Women is backing six candidates — one in the Senate and five in the House — in some of the most competitive races of 2018.

The group formed late last year from already established joint fundraising committees backed by top GOP donors including Robert and Rebekah Mercer, Joe and Todd Ricketts, and Paul Singer, according to Politico. Winning For Women aims to “build an infrastructure that will allow right-of-center women to succeed in their pursuit of leadership opportunities.”

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In the Senate, the organization is backing state Sen. Leah Vukmir, who’s running for the GOP nomination to take on Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinOvernight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Judge upholds Trump expansion of non-ObamaCare plans | Williamson says she believes in vaccines | House committee to hold oversight hearing on Juul The Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Health care moves to center stage of Democratic primary fight | Sanders, Biden trade sharps jabs on Medicare for All | Senate to vote on 9/11 bill next week | Buttigieg pushes for cheaper insulin MORE (D-Wis.).

Wisconsin has become a top target for Republicans since President TrumpDonald John TrumpLiz Cheney: 'Send her back' chant 'inappropriate' but not about race, gender Booker: Trump is 'worse than a racist' Top Democrat insists country hasn't moved on from Mueller MORE won the state by less than a point in 2016. Republican outside groups have already dumped millions into the race to defeat Baldwin and keep the rest of the state red.

But first, Vukmir will have to get through a competitive GOP primary on Aug. 14 against Marine Corps veteran and businessman Kevin Nicholson.

The group is also backing five House candidates, three of whom are running for important seats that could decide which party holds the majority. Those include: attorney Tiffany Shedd, who’s running against Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-Ariz.); Lea Márquez Peterson, CEO of a local Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, who’s running to succeed Rep. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyTrump angry more Republicans haven't defended his tweets: report Republicans scramble to contain Trump fallout On The Money: Senators unload on Facebook cryptocurrency | Tech giants on defensive at antitrust hearing | Democrats ask Labor Department to investigate Amazon warehouses MORE (R-Ariz.); and state Sen. Carla Nelson, who is looking to succeed Rep. Tim WalzTimothy (Tim) James WalzMinnesota program will pay homeowners to transform lawns into bee gardens as species inches closer to extinction Minnesota governor signs law making marital rape illegal New governors chart ambitious paths in first 100 days MORE (D-Minn.).

Winning For Women is also backing two Republicans running in more reliably red districts. The organization is endorsing former state Sen. Debbie Lesko who’s running in the special election to replace ex-Rep. Trent FranksHarold (Trent) Trent FranksArizona New Members 2019 Cook shifts 8 House races toward Dems Freedom Caucus members see openings in leadership MORE (R-Ariz.) and state Rep. Carol Miller who’s running to succeed Rep. Evan JenkinsEvan Hollin JenkinsWest Virginia New Members 2019 Republican Carol Miller holds off Democrat in West Virginia House race Trump to fundraise for 3 Republicans running for open seats: report MORE (R-W.Va.).

“These outstanding women have demonstrated a keen understanding of the issues facing everyday Americans,” said Katherine Cresto, Winning For Women’s communications director.

“They have also fought the stranglehold of big government and are great examples of what it means to be a Winning For Women candidate. Winning For Women looks forward to elevating leaders of their caliber and potential to the national stage.”

Winning for Women is looking to be able to compete with Democratic groups like EMILY’s List, which backs female candidates who support abortion rights.

The GOP group is seeking to add more Republican women to the ranks of Congress, since they’re currently outnumbered by female Democrats.

Seventeen female Democrats serve in the Senate, compared to six Republican women — a figure which now includes Mississippi Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith, who was tapped on Wednesday to replace retiring Sen. Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranBiden has a lot at stake in first debate The Hill's Morning Report — Trump turns the page back to Mueller probe Trump praises Thad Cochran: 'A real senator with incredible values' MORE (R-Miss.).

And in the House, there are 22 Republican women, while there are 62 Democratic women.